The UK parliament’s influential Business, Innovation, and Skills (BIS) select committee is worried Airbnb is driving up property prices in London and has asked Sadiq Khan whether the law should be changed.
Iain Wright, chair of the BIS select committee, has written to Mayor of London Sadiq Khan to ask whether he thinks the law should be changed to reign in Airbnb.
Here is the key passage from the letter, dated Wednesday (emphasis ours):
“During my Committee’s recent inquiry into the Digital Economy, we heard evidence that while companies such as Airbnb can enable homeowners to unlock economic value by temporarily letting spare rooms, extensive use of Airbnb by professional landlords, contrary to the current law, can help to drive up property prices, compounding issues of affordability in the capital.”
Last year the government deregulated short-term rentals in the UK, meaning people can rent out their house without asking for permission as long as it is for fewer than 90 nights in the year.
However, Wright says that many people who have given evidence to the committee’s inquiry into the Digital Economy worry that “the current law is unenforceable.”
Wright asks Khan for his “assessment of the impact of companies such as Airbnb on London and your views on whether the existing law should be amended.”
Airbnb lets people rent out either their whole property when they are away or spare space in it. However, Wright and his committee are concerned that the platform is incentivising professional landlords to buy up properties to rent over the platform, restricting supply and driving up prices.
Several cities around the world have already taken action to curb Airbnb, with Barcelona, Berlin, and Paris leading the way in tightening restrictions around temporary lettings.
A spokesperson for Airbnb told Business Insider over email: “The vast majority of Airbnb hosts are regular Londoners who share their homes to boost their income and afford living costs in one of the world’s most expensive cities – they are not typically businesses or professionals.
“London has clear and simple home sharing rules; we regularly remind hosts to follow them and we are working closely with London boroughs to promote responsible home sharing and help tackle bad actors.”
Airbnb its typical London host earns an additional £3,500 ($4,621) by sharing their space for 50 nights a year and claims hosts generated £1.3 billion of economic activity in the capital last year.