Following London's lead, Liverpool takes steps to limit Airbnb's power

Following the off-market sale, the 100-guestroom hotel now trades as Travelodge Liverpool John Lennon Airport.
Liverpool John Lennon Airport. Image: calflier001 / CC BY-SA 2.0

Airbnb's new UK Insights Report found that that every region in the UK now has at least 2,000 active spare room and entire home listings, with numbers reaching 64,000 in London and 21,900 in Scotland. Airbnb recorded guest growth of 81 percent for the UK as a whole from July 2016 to July 2017.

Approximately 325,000 guests stayed at homes throughout the northwest region last year, an increase of 116 percent over the previous year. The northeast region reported a 116-percent increase in the inbound guest growth rate over the last year, with 2,000 active listings.

Northern Ireland is the site's fastest-growing UK destination, with more than with 132,000 guests contributing to a 144-percent growth rate compared to the previous year. The country has 2,600 active listings.

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While properties listed in major cities like Edinburgh and London are popular, smaller towns and cities like Leamington Spa, Worth Matravers and Llandudno are also gaining ground, the report said. 

Blocking the Growth

Not all cities across the UK are eager for Airbnb to keep growing, however. Earlier this year, under pressure from the city government, Airbnb announced that it would ban London-based hosts from renting out entire homes for more than 90 days per year without official consent from city councils. (A January report suggested that the site would lose more than $400 million in potential London bookings this year due to the restrictions.) 

Now, Liverpool might follow suit. Several councillors are expected to consider a motion at next week’s city council meeting calling on the mayor of Liverpool to appeal to the government for a cap on entire home listings to 90 nights per year.

The motion, brought by councillors Laura Robertson-Collins, Nick Small and Hetty Wood, notes that the local authority broadly welcomes online homesharing platforms like Airbnb Liverpool but believes they need to be properly regulated and managed. 

If the motion is passed, Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson will write to the Secretary of State for Communities, the leader of the Local Government Association and the chief executive of Airbnb to request the following:

  • Homesharing sites should automatically cap homesharing activities at 90 days per home per calendar year as a default
  • Homesharing sites should share their data with local authorities
  • Legislation to be introduced to allow local authorities to set up a register of homesharing properties and hosts within their areas to ensure that minimum standards are met and that hosts meet a fit and proper test
  • Planning legislation reformed so areas outside of London are covered by the 90-day rule
  • Ensure proper regulation of all unregulated short-term letting

Counter-Argument

Joe Davies, co-founder of Host-So-Simple, a Liverpool-based property-management firm, told Your Move Magazine that while cities like London and Berlin need caps on long-term rentals, such regulation would be damaging for Liverpool. 

“Tourism is booming in the city and anything which contributes to, and enhances, the enjoyment of our visitors to the city of Liverpool is something we should protect. For us to continue that growth we need to make sure we invest in our tourism, not limit it," he told the paper. “The expansion of the northern area of the city center with the Liverpool Waters development, new cruise terminal and Everton FC stadium is further evidence of the planned increase in housing supply.”

The motion will be debated during a city council meeting at Liverpool Town Hall next week.

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