Two more tourist destinations have clamped down on Airbnb in the last week, as the global war on the controversial accommodation website continues.
North Devon has begun a six-week public consultation to ban houses in multiple occupation (HMO) from being let out as holiday accommodation. Councillors argue that this would stop residents from being priced out by landlords looking to make more money from the holiday lettings market.
Meanwhile, strict new regulations on short-term rentals have come into effect in New York City. The rules mean that rentals shorter than 30 days are only allowed if hosts are officially registered with the city, and the host must be present in the property for the duration of the stay. More than two guests at a time are not allowed, in what has been described as a de facto ban on the platform.
Airbnb, which operates in more than 100,000 towns and cities, has faced a significant backlash since launching 15 years ago. And things seem to have ramped up in 2023.
‘D-Day’ for Airbnb
In Scotland, Airbnb hosts are approaching what has been described as the “D-Day” of October 1. Under the new legislation, hosts now have just a matter of weeks to apply for a licence to host guests, or face a £2,500 fine and a ban. Uptake, apparently, has been slow in some areas, including Edinburgh. Those listing whole properties will also need to apply for planning permission.
October also brings the deadline for Airbnb hosts in England and Wales to comply with new health and safety regulations. The rules mean that holiday let owners must install fire doors and have a smoke alarm fitted in virtually every room of the house. Wales has also introduced new planning rules, introducing a new classification for short-term lets.
Co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk told the Telegraph that these conversations around the regulation of Airbnb are “inevitable with success.”
“Our stakeholders aren’t just the guests and hosts and employees and investors. They’re also the communities in which you operate. Our perspective has always been to try to work in cooperation in those communities. To find compromise, to find the middle ground,” he said. “With any industry that becomes significant, there needs to be rules. But it’s challenging at a global scale.”
The cities cracking down
Name a city, be it Barcelona, Miami, Amsterdam or Palma de Mallorca, and the chances are that it will have addressed the issue of short-term accommodation in some form since 2008. Many are only just catching up.
In June, 2023, Florence authorities said they were looking to ban all residential properties in its historic centre from being listed on platforms like Airbnb, in a move to make more homes for locals in the city. In a proposal dubbed “save historic centres”, Mayor Dario Nardella plans to ban any new short-term rental contracts, and to offer tax breaks to encourage permanent residents to buy properties in the city centre.
This comes as Italy’s central government is drafting a bill that could impose a two-night minimum stay in the country’s most-visited cities, and which may require Airbnb owners to have a national identification code. Airbnb said in a statement that it wanted to see “clear and simple national rules” in Italy.
Melbourne is looking to take action against Airbnb, too, amid concerns that the rise in popularity of short-term accommodation is forcing locals out of the area. The local Victoria government announced in May it is considering new measures that would cap the number of nights that landlords can list their properties on Airbnb, and empower local councils to charge Airbnb owners higher commercial rates.
In Malaysia, the popular tourist destination of Penang has imposed a ban on almost all forms of short-term accommodation in residential addresses. Under the new rules, only commercial properties like serviced apartments will be able to host short-term guests, and they can only be leased for a maximum of 180 days per year. Airbnb has more than 1,000 properties listed in Penang.
The global clampdown on Airbnb is coming in all forms. In Seville, Airbnbs and other short-term lettings have been told this year they must install “noise meters” under new regional laws. These will measure the decibel levels of tourists in a bid to prevent excessive noise pollution in the city. If guests exceed the limit, the property owner will be informed and will have to take action, or face a penalty.
What this all means for the holidaymaker is the potential for fewer accommodation options and, quite possibly, higher prices in places like Florence, Penang and New York City. And after October 1, you may notice fewer Airbnbs listed in your local neighbourhood, too.