Airbnb imposes 90-day annual limit for London hosts

A view of the St Pancras railway station from the guest suite at St Pancras Clock Tower in London, England. The apartment is listed in online accommodation rental service, Airbnb.
A view of the St Pancras railway station from the guest suite at St Pancras Clock Tower in London, England. The apartment is listed in online accommodation rental service, Airbnb. PHOTO: AIRBNB

LONDON - From January 2017, online home-sharing platform Airbnb will impose a 90-day annual limit for hosts in London.

This comes after a recently published study found that 23 per cent of Airbnb rental homes in the British capital were booked for more than 90 nights per year.

This amounted to 4,938 of its "entire home" London listings, said the Airbnb-commissioned study by British think-tank, the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR).

Under London's 2015 Deregulation Act, homes can be used for temporary sleeping accommodation without being considered commercial, as long as the total number of nights does not exceed 90 in a calendar year, and the host is liable to pay council tax.

The study also found that the majority of home listings in most London boroughs are booked for under 31 nights.

"The problem was that a website that was about people making a little money letting out rooms was being abused by professional landlords turning their properties into hotels by the back door," Mr Tom Copley, Labour's housing spokesman on the London assembly, told The Guardian.

Deputy London mayor for housing and residential development, James Murray, told Bloomberg in an e-mail statement that the move was "a very positive and sensible step forward".

He added that he has been in discussion with London Boroughs to "understand their concerns about enforcing existing legislation".

Airbnb's tweaks to its policy come at a time when the platform faces increasing pressure from cities and governments.

Elsewhere, hosts in Amsterdam will now need a licence to rent their homes for more than 60 days a year.

Airbnb will also promote a new tool in the Netherlands capital city for neighbours to share concerns about a home listing, including noise complaints.