I am appalled that Airbnb and other STRs are continuing to allow UK bookings over the next three months when our government has put in place a ban against the opening of B&Bs, self-catering, camping, travel to second homes etc, to try and help the spread of the Coronavirus.
It is clear that sadly some UK Airbnb hosts are ignoring this advice. Surely Airbnb and other STRs should do their bit and block UK hosts from taking bookings during the ban?
If UK hosts want to take bookings for local NHS workers they can do this by contacting local hospitals and health services and ask to be added to the list of accommodation providers.
Please UK hosts please stop encouraging the spread of the virus by keeping your places open. Tourist areas such as Devon, Cornwall, the Scottish Highlands and Islands, and the Lake District and some seaside resorts are located in areas with more limited health facilities. Hosts please think of the communities you live in or host in and adhere to the ban.
Our apartment is still open for business BUT we have changed the description today it is only available to essential workers until the current 3 week lockdown is over. After that we will consider based on latest Government advice.
We have also let the local hospital know that accommodation is available if needed given that hotels are shut
While I agree that travel and holidays are really not a great idea at this time, there are different reasons why people might need to book an Airbnb.
I have, for some time focused on long-term guests and have three private rooms to rent. My recent guests were all from overseas and have returned to their homes, so now I have an empty house. While it would probably be better for my own personal safety not to take in any guests, I have decided that I will take a guest for ONE of the rooms only, and there are certain special conditions involved in that.
I certainly do not want travellers/tourists. I do not want short-term stays and different people coming in and out (not safe for them nor me). I do, however, sometimes get local, long-term guests booking because, for example, they are in between homes. Their lease is up, but their new place is not ready. Or, they moved down to London but couldn't find a permanent home yet. With the housing crisis, it's not easy to find a place even in normal circumstances, but this would be especially difficult for people right now, not being able to go to viewings etc. and with some landlords being hostile.
Some people still need homes, not just key workers. What are they supposed to do? It is maybe not so easy to go crash on someone's sofa right now with social distancing, especially if you are new to the city and don't have friends or family here.
Most renters in London live in cramped conditions, e.g. tiny flatshares or lots of packed in together in one house. It is not that uncommon for 6-8 young professionals to be sharing the same bathroom. These places are not always kept very clean.
My house is large, spread over four floors, with several bathrooms, different living areas and outdoor spaces. Each bedroom is spacious, with a desk. The guest could have their own bathroom and workspace. They would be able to go outside for fresh air without wondering the streets or using public transport. I think that is a better situation for many than most of the alternatives. Not everyone can afford a flat all to themselves, even if they could find one.
So, I will take in one local guest, providing they are working from home and observing our current lock down regulations. Yes, it's partly because I could do with a bit of income, but it's also that if someone is looking right now, it's probably because they need to. I do not expect to get bookings really, but I did have one enquiry from a girl whose lease has expired and whose new place is not available for at least a month.
Tourists, on the other hand, are a different kettle of fish!
Hosts need to be responsible about their choices, but I don't think it's Airbnb's place to play God.
I understand what you are saying @Huma0 however the guidance makes it very clear that we cannot do STR within our own homes, only through whole listings for key workers.
This is hard on hosts like you and I who let rooms in our home. However I work for the NHS and know from colleagues how truly devastating the impact of the virus is, particularly in places like London (I co-host a property there) so know however tough it is for me personally, I need to stop hosting.
This is not Airbnb playing God, but legislation passed by our own government.
I think you could take on a long term tenant if you need some replacement income (do check that though as I am not 100%)
Sorry if I missed something, but it's hard to keep up. You mentioned The Government putting a ban on B&Bs, self-catering, camping, travel to second homes etc. Does this extend to all STRs? Does it extend to short-lets via estate/letting agencies? I honestly don't know.
From my perspective, I do not offer B&B, self-catering, camping nor travel to a second home. I offer long-term accommodation to my guests. There is not much difference between that and a long-term renter. There is not much difference in price either, when you factor in bills, Council Tax, cleaning and other expenses, so this is not about making more money through STR than LTR.
My reasons for doing this through Airbnb rather than the usual LTR channels have always been because the guests have proven in general to be more respectful and trustworthy (e.g. not throwing drug-fuelled parties in my absence, inviting prostitutes and drug dealers round etc.) and I thought I was covered by Airbnb's policies so that I wouldn't have to do all the reference checking, deposits etc. Believe me, I have not been making my fortune via STR! The guests only pay more because there are Airbnb fees involved.
Most of my long-term guests book an Airbnb because there are not many other choices out there for them. Guests typically stay for months at a time (my last guests were three, four and five month stays), but most landlords here require a 12 month lease and large deposit. They also want references from UK landlords, which can be impossible if you have moved here from another country or previously been living with family. Short lets through estate agencies etc. are normally are prohibitively expensive.
So, as I mentioned, I am certainly not encouraging us to take STRs in what might be considered the tradition sense, i.e. short stays for holidaymakers or business travellers. I had a recent enquiry from a guest who wanted to book three nights with the option of extending and that is an absolute no-no for me. I am open to taking in one long-term guest who actually needs a place to stay.
However, given the glut of cut-price accommodation now on the London market due to all the Airbnb cancellations, perhaps many of the guests I would normally house have lots of options. I am certainly not expecting any bookings, but I really don't see the difference in taking a long-term guest via Airbnb and a long-term renter via another channel.
I understand though that my case is perhaps not very typical.
Sorry for the late reply and yes it does for STRs.
I think there is a blurred line between a LTR rental on Airbnb for three months and a short term let for three months. What they are trying to achieve by these new regulations, is to reduce the numbers traveling in and around areas particularly London where the virus is developing at such a rate.
If you have someone through Airbnb for a two or three month booking, who is willing to isolate at home and can work or study from there and will abide by health rules and not want to have people visit etc then I think only you can make a choice around that and whether you feel that person will keep you and anyone else in your household as safe as they can by regular hand cleaning, only going out for short walks, to food shops etc.
I am asthmatic so couldn't take the risk of having someone living in my home who may not be as stringent as I am about isolating and health routines.
And because I work for the NHS I cannot in all good conscience go against the health advice they are providing.
Let me see if I can find you a link to the guidance Airbnb issued around this for the UK.
The government guidance is in their Corona Virus legislation so will try and track this down too.
Hope that helps.
Yes, sensible precautions and judgement are needed in this situation and you are right, you need the guest also to follow guidelines about social distancing and hygiene. So far, I have only had one guest enquire about a long-term booking. The first thing I asked her is if she would be working from home (this was before the lock down), but there are many other things to consider, including hygiene. Any hosts who do decide to take someone in (and again, I am talking about long-term, local guests, not travellers) needs to think long and hard about all of that stuff.
Before the lockdown, I took in a friend who was temporarily homeless because I wanted to help her. I am still glad I did because she needed somewhere to stay and I had an empty house. However, she didn't really get the whole social distancing thing as she went out socialising (one time to a restaurant and otherwise to visit friends in their homes) four times in one week! She thought if she was taking an Uber rather than public transport, it was okay.
I had to explain to her why she was taking unnecessary risks and putting others in danger. She eventually got it I think, but then the lock down happened and after that, she definitely understood! She has since moved into her new home, where it is much more cramped and the hygiene conditions are not so great. Like I said, that is common for most London renters in shared spaces.
If I took in a long term guest or long term renter, I would need to lay down the law regarding these matters and that might not be easy if someone is not onboard. It is certainly something to consider very, very carefully.
Oh, and the guests having visitors round would definitely not be an option! I cannot see my immediate family right now, so I don't see why guests should have their friends pop round to mine!
To be honest, my long-term guests (and I have hosted many) very rarely have visitors in normal circumstances, so that is not something that I would be too worried about but, you are right, you need to make this stuff crystal clear from the start.
Just to let you know, I've raised this with the team, from the comfort of my locked house surrounded by pasta, toilet paper and an aggravated cat.
Will let you know asap!