The effect Airbnb’s are having on Bath’s housing market and traditional B&B’s has been raised in Parliament by the city’s MP Wera Hobhouse.
In a speech in the House of Commons, Wera Hobhouse raised concerns over whole households being lost to Airbnb in Bath. In her speech, she asked the Government how they intend to address the huge damage that Airbnb does to local family life and to local businesses.
One of the concerns is that Airbnb providers do not have to go through the same stringent checks as a registered business. This means that local businesses, small hotels, and traditional B&Bs are at a disadvantage. The issue has been ongoing for years with the Government failing to make progress on regulation. Another issue is Airbnb being used as ‘party houses’ which impact the local community and cause a nuisance to neighbours.
Commenting after Wera Hobhouse MP said:
“Airbnb began as a means to rent out a spare room. It is a good idea. However, property owners have found loopholes in regulation, meaning long-term renters are being turfed out and whole family homes are lost to Airbnb. In cities like Bath, this has a huge impact on the local housing market and on traditional B&Bs and small hotels. Airbnbs also don’t require the same safety measures as traditional B&Bs and hotels. It is simply unfair.
“In other cases, Airbnbs used as ‘party houses’ cause a nuisance to neighbours and contribute to rising house prices. We must ensure that Bath remains an attractive destination, but also a wonderful and affordable place to live. The Business Secretary must provide a statement on how he intends to address the huge damage that Airbnb does to local family life and to local businesses.”
A transcript of the exchange is below
Wera Hobhouse MP
In cities such as Bath, Airbnb has had a devastating effect, and not only on the local housing market but on traditional B&Bs and small hotels. The effect is particularly dramatic when whole houses are turned into Airbnb properties. It is a travesty of the original intention behind Airbnb as part of the sharing economy—now it is just big business. Before any further damage is done, could we have a statement from the Business Secretary on how he intends to address the huge damage that Airbnb does to local family life and to local businesses?
Mark Spencer MP (The Leader of the Commons and Lord President of the Council)
“The hon. Lady raises an important matter that is worthy of debate. She will also recognise, however, that by facilitating people’s ability to visit Bath, Airbnb has a huge beneficial effect on the rest of the economy, with people visiting cafés, restaurants, museums, antique shops— And chip shops, as the hon. Gentleman suggests. It is important to facilitate people’s ability to visit and make use of tourist attractions. I am sure that the Business Secretary will have heard the hon. Lady’s comments, and she will have an opportunity to address them directly to him at the next Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy questions.”
Paul Jackson writes:
“Mark Spencer’s comment totally misses the point – no surprises there. By suggesting that Airbnb encourages people to stay in Bath, he forgets that there are plenty of other places to stay. Wera’s point is that these multiple occupancy houses are not subject to the same regulations as designated HMOs or bed and breakfast places – and they should be. If the government was serious about tackling the housing shortage, it would also be concerned (as Wera points out) about family homes being taken out of the existing stock.
All short-term holiday lets, such as Airbnb’s, but also those booked via booking.com, etc, should have to be licensed by local authorities – and central government is blocking this through attitudes such as those that Mark Spencer demonstrates.”
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