While other major cities across the world have implemented strict rules on booking sites such as Airbnb, Imran Ali, chairman of the BHA, said Bristol has been to slow to address regulation and policing.
Ali said the result has seen between 2,000 to 3,000 listings being offered to Bristol visitors that are unregulated on issues such as fire safety and are not paying rates or VAT like all other businesses.
The head of the BHA now wants exclusion zones to be placed across the city and local residents to have the option and authority to block any properties or rooms from being offered in the street in which they live.
Ali said: “Not only do these properties not pay business rates but lack the required level of fire, health and safety standards. I imagine as well, many landlords who still have a mortgage have not declared that they are leasing out their property to their lender and would be in breach of their mortgage agreement.
“If you haven’t told your mortgage lender that you are letting out your property also invalidates your insurance.”
The proposals being tabled with Bristol City Council (BCC) include an option for residents to implement exclusion zones based on city ward boundaries, whereby only if an 80% majority are happy for owners to let their property on Airbnb would a license be granted by BCC. This would also be on the provision that the property can only be let a maximum of 170 days per year.
Any property owner granted a license would then have to pay business rates based on the size of property and declare their interests with HMRC. Ali also wants it to become mandatory for sites like Airbnb to declare all listed properties to the council so it can keep track of numbers, licenses and payment of letting rates.
Ali added: “We’re happy for competition however it has to be on a level playing field. If nothing is done, hotels and B&Bs will suffer. It goes without saying that the local job market will also see a decline due to less services being needed. And finally, let’s not forget that the council will then start to lose income from the tax they currently receive from these legitimate businesses.”