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The Progressive Policy Think Tank

Home sharing services must make sure planning rules observed to avoid future problems - IPPR

Think tank report calls for site owners and government to work together to make sure rules enforced

A new report by think tank IPPR, gives the best insight yet into the effect that home sharing websites, like Airbnb are having on London’s housing market.

The research, carried out using Airbnb’s own datasets for the first time, has found that at present levels its impact on the London housing market is negligible, However, while it remains small-scale relative to London’s housing stock, it has the potential to have an impact upon London’s housing supply in the future.

IPPR argues these risks which can be headed off with reasonable, robust enforcement of existing regulations that all home-sharing sites must follow. In response to the report Airbnb have already announced changes to the way their home sharing platform will function in future.

Currently people renting out whole homes for more than 90 nights in a year must obtain planning permission. IPPR argues that home sharing sites and government need to work together to make sure this regulation is properly observed and enforced:

  • Home sharing sites should warn users when they are approaching the 90-night limit and force hosts to prove they have secured planning permission once they reach it, blocking those who are unable to provide this information from continuing to host;
  • The Greater London Authority should work with local authorities and home sharing platforms as responsible businesses to introduce a registration scheme through which planning permission could be more easily recorded, to help enforcement of the existing rules;
  • Home sharing sites should share their data with local authorities, to help them understand the impact of home sharing in their boroughs.

The changes announced by Airbnb will introduce automated limits to ensure that London hosts are unable to share their entire home on the platform for more than the 90-night cap, unless they can confirm they have the required permission.

Charlotte Snelling, IPPR researcher on housing, said:

“London’s house crisis will only be solved by delivering enough land and investment and the planning system needed to build more homes.

“Our research shows that home sharing in London isn’t currently widespread enough to be causing problems, but it has the potential to do so in future.

“Different parts of the ‘sharing economy’ will inevitably need different forms of regulation. Governments need to be smarter and bolder in how they approach this task. On home sharing the first step must be to make sure existing rules are properly observed.”

Contact

Kieren Walters 07921 403651 k.walters@ippr.org

Editor’s Notes:

1. Embargoed copies of the full report are available to the media by emailing k.walters@ippr.org

2. Using data from Airbnb – the capital’s biggest home sharing website – IPPR has assessed the impact of home sharing activity on London’s housing market. Our analysis is the first of its kind to use actual bookings data.

3. In this report we reinforce the view that IPPR set out in the final report of the London Housing Commission, published in March 2016: that the priority for policymakers should be to tackle the primary causes of London’s housing crisis, namely: (1) the undersupply of land; (2) an overly complex and bureaucratic planning system; (3) low investment; and (4) too little capacity in the construction sector.

4. IPPR aims to influence policy in the present and reinvent progressive politics in the future, and is dedicated to the better country that Britain can be through progressive policy and politics. With nearly 60 staff across four offices throughout the UK, IPPR is Britain’s only national think tank with a truly national presence.

Our independent research is wide ranging, it covers the economy, work, skills, transport, democracy, the environment, education, energy, migration and healthcare among many other areas. ippr.org