House of Lords to consider relaxation of rules on the sharing economy

30 January 2015 by
House of Lords to consider relaxation of rules on the sharing economy

London hoteliers are hoping that a campaign against plans to allow city dwellers freely let out their homes for up to 90 days without restriction will succeed when the Deregulation Bill 2014-15 comes before the House of Lords next week.

Residents are currently required to seek planning permission prior to letting out a residence, in exchange for a fee, on a short term basis.

However, the British Hospitality Association (BHA) has lobbied MPs and members of the House of Lords to withdraw Clause 33 which will allow a relaxation of the current regulations, as well as campaign for residents who rent out rooms via Airbnb, One Fine Stay, Love Home Swap and other sharing economy agencies to comply with the relevant health and safety regulations.

Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of the BHA, said that the reputation of Britain as a safe and reliable international hospitality and tourism was heavily compromised by the Clause 33 being passed.

While the BHA recognises the commercial value of "repurposing a residence into a hotel", it has serious concerns of how this will impact the make-up of local communities. "We therefore have no choice but to place the interests of our employees, customers and local communities ahead of commercial gain on this matter and support a move to retain the residential integrity of local London communities," said Ibrahim.

She highlighted how cities around the world which have deregulated the letting of residential properties for short-term let have experienced an increase in housing inflation and anti-social behaviour.

Sally Beck, general manager of the four-AA-star, 416-bedroom Lancaster London hotel said that the hospitality industry is not anti-competition and welcomes new business from the digital economy to London.

"Our concerns are more about the health and safety of the ‘hosts' as much as the neighbourhoods that these private lets will occur in. As well as unfair advantages that these new ‘entrepreneurs' have with no business taxes or employment legislation being needed by this new market."

There are currently 23,000 listings of bedrooms, apartments and houses available on short-term let in London via Airbnb.

The Deregulation Bill reaches the report stage in the House of Lords, on Tuesday 2 February, before moving onto a third reading and consideration of any amendments prior to becoming law.

Room-sharing websites: room for everybody >>

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