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British hospitality industry voices concerns over Airbnb site

Just weeks after London cabbies protested over the impact car-booking app Uber is having on the industry, the British Hospitality Association has hit out at spare room website Airbnb.

A Silicon Valley start-up, Airbnb allows users to advertise a spare room, or entire flat or house, to rent for short periods of time. In London alone, there are now 13,000 Airbnb listings, making it an every growing competitor to the hotel and B&B industry in the capital.

The British Hospitality Association has hit out at the site, raising questions about health and safety and property regulations.

"We are very concerned that large numbers of private homes are being let on a semi or even permanent basis to tourists because it's unlikely that any of these properties have ever had any fire risk or health and safety checks," said Jackie Grech, legal and policy director at the BHA, told The Guardian.

"76 per cent of fire deaths in the UK last year were in the home and if you have strangers staying there who aren't familiar with how things work, the risks could increase.

"The BHA also has some serious concerns about the opportunity for antisocial behaviours that could occur in these properties, which aren't professionally managed."

The Intergenerational Foundation also said buy-to-let investors are using the site and many claim they are not running lettings businesses in order to claim tax exemptions.

Conversely, an Airbnb spokesperson said: "We require all of our hosts to follow the rules in any lease agreements they might have and relevant local regulations. The situation in London regarding planning laws has been frankly confusing with an antiquated law from the 1970s.”

"Housing costs are determined by a large number of factors, not least the amount of new properties being built. There is no evidence in London or any other city that Airbnb has a negative impact on house prices or rents."

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