Bristol hoteliers propose action against Airbnb rooms

The head of the Bristol Hoteliers Association (BHA) has urged city’s leaders to consider a series of strategies that will help alleviate Airbnb’s impact on Bristol’s hospitality sector.

Imran Ali, chairman of the BHA, says there are nearly 2,000 registered Airbnb properties in the city, and is asking local leaders to look into the growth of the service. He said the platform not only creates an “uneven playing field”, but is putting people at risk from a health and safety point of view.

One of the strategies proposed is to introduce exclusion zones based on the city’s ward boundaries, where Ali wants local residents to have the option and authority to block any properties being offered in the street in which they live.

Another proposal is that anyone wanting to offer a property can only do so under license, paying a sliding scale fee based on the number of rooms or size of the property, along with certification for health and safety and fire checks for all Bristol Airbnb properties.

The average Airbnb room rate in Bristol is £73 per night, similar to what Bristol hotels charge average over the year.

Ali said: “Why should hotels and B&B owners have to pay business rates, VAT and comply with rigorous health and safety checks, fire assessments, PAT testing, visits from environmental department and undergo food hygiene tests while those offering their property or rooms on Airbnb don’t have to do any of these things.

“The dangers are there to see from both a business and health and safety point of view. Also, while I don’t want to tar all Airbnb owners with the same brush, it’s highly debatable whether all of Bristol’s Airbnb landlords declare their income to the taxman. The sums are easy to do – if you rent out your property in Clifton Down seven nights a week that works out at £987 per week.

“We’re happy for competition however it has to be on a level playing field. If nothing is done, hotels and B&Bs will close down. The council will then start to lose income from the tax they currently receive from these legitimate businesses. Food and drink suppliers will lose trade, cleaning services will no longer be required and local people will lose their jobs. It’s that serious and I can’t put it more bluntly.”

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