‘Urgent action’ demanded on Airbnb-style platforms

‘Urgent action’ demanded on Airbnb-style platforms

A cross-party group of MPs has demanded urgent action “to clarify” the security assurances of accommodation platforms such as Airbnb and demanded “a level playing field” on standards.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for tourism and hospitality issued an interim report on the findings of an inquiry into the sharing economy on Wednesday.

Chair of the committee Gordon Marsden, MP for Blackpool and shadow minister for higher education and skills, told an English Tourism Week conference earlier in the week: “There is evidence new businesses are not compliant with regulations to keep visitors safe.

“Health and safety enforcement agencies find it difficult to check these businesses. Sharing economy customers are potentially less protected.

“It is important that growth is not at the expense of health and safety, consumer standards and maintenance of a level playing field.

“There needs to be sufficient transparency to allow the enforcement agencies to check.”

In a report on the interim findings of the committee, Marsden told the industry conference: “We support diversity and choice in the market, but it’s important to ensure new distribution models are held to the same standards as older [businesses].

“The bulk of the issues stem from the fact that leading sharing-economy platforms do not check hosts’ compliance with health and safety regulations before posting listings on sites.”

Marsden noted: “The platforms say data-sharing regulations prevent them sharing data.”

But he said: “There is increasing evidence of professional operators using platforms as a low-cost route to market. An increasing number of listed properties [on these platforms] are commercial in nature.”

He added: “There is also the impact on the local housing market. Ever more properties are being turned over to shorter term rents [and] many residents feel the impact.”

Marsden said: “It is proposed that it is not necessary to regulate the sharing economy. [But] if that is the case, the government should deregulate the B&B sector.”

He insisted: “Consumers should be protected.”

The committee has made six interim recommendations, based on the principle that “all businesses offering accommodation should compete on a level playing field”.

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