World-first Airbnb scheme aims to isolate rogue landlords

From next month, British short-let hosts will be able to apply for national accreditation as the industry attempts to stamp out unscrupulous landlords.

The government-backed scheme is being launched in September, with voluntary assessments introduced to examine a property’s safety, cleanliness and legality.

While representatives of the Australian accommodation industry have long advocated accreditation, the push has been for mandatory controls – which by nature are against Airbnb’s anti-red tape ethos.

Merilee Karr, chairwoman of the UK Short-Term Accommodation Association (STAA) which is behind the accreditation, told London’s Evening Standard newspaper: “With a new industry, everyone is trying to figure out what this should look like.

“How do you make sure hosts know what the health and safety standards are and what the legal requirements are? If it’s not done properly that creates its own issues.”

The company that created Visit England’s accreditation scheme, M Assessment Services, has devised the scheme and more than 1,000 properties have already signed up.

Property owners will be able to use the official STAA accreditation logo when they advertise their property once their home has passed M Assessment’s inspection.

Carol Giuseppi, CEO of Tourism Accommodation Australia told Accomnews: “TAA’s belief is that any accreditation system that is established cannot be voluntary.

“It needs to be part of a centrally managed registration system and a mandatory code of conduct that has strict penalties for any breaches.

“It is also important that the online channels are prepared to remove any listings that are in breach of the code.

“Voluntary systems simply create a layer of bureaucracy and costs with very little teeth.”

Supporters of the British scheme believe accredited properties will become more popular, making the scheme attractive to landlords. They say it could also help to defuse disputes with neighbours by making the short-let process more official and transparent.

Ms Karr, who is chief executive officer and founder of short-stay company Under the Doormat, told the Evening Standard: “The accredited scheme is the first of its type in the world and top in our industry.

“If customers, or nearby neighbours, complain about an accredited property it would be inspected and could ultimately lose its rating if issues are not resolved.”

Annual fees will be between £100 ($174) and £200 ($348) for individual property owners and up to £1000 ($1742) for companies.

A spokesperson for the British government’s Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: “Short-term lettings support tourism and enable households to boost their income, but we are clear they should not have a negative impact on the wider communities.

“We welcome the work that the STAA are doing to drive up standards and promote best practice.”

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