Brighton and Hove City Council demands Airbnb changes

UK: Brighton and Hove City Council has demanded a shift in Airbnb business practices within the city.

The Argus reports that the council has asked for both a register of reliable hosts, in order to combat the issue of disorderly tenants within the city, as well as asking that Airbnb hosts begin paying business tax rates to the city.

The primary problem in both cases is the issue with party houses, which have been a major nuisance to the people of the area. Parties throughout 2019 in Brighton were reported as getting either out of hand or causing issues to the neighborhood’s residents.

Airbnb has already made moves towards the concerns, calling for an end to party houses across its platform, and de-listing a set of houses in Los Angeles which were identified as “chronic party houses”. The newspaper also reports that the company has proposed a statutory host registration system across the UK, based on an existing rating system.

The council hopes that the measures will provide better health both for the community and its businesses, countering any possible non-competitive behaviour caused by the booking platform. Reports say Airbnb responded that it would “[help] spread and diversify tourism in Brighton while extending benefits to local families and businesses”.

Some residents are already concerned with the possibility of tax increase, with concerns that the tax may be prohibitive to those who use the platform casually right now. The council has no powers to implement the change at the moment, and plans to petition the government for them.

Reports say that Airbnb is seeking unique solutions to the problem with host reliability, as it purchased AI background checking company Trooly earlier this year. The move has found criticism, though, as concerns about AI biases have led to worries about people being unintentionally blacklisted from the platform.

Labour councillor Jackie O’Quinn was quoted as saying: “The vast majority of visitors to our city enjoy themselves without these issues and are very welcome here. But we hear residents’ concerns and wish to build on previous work.”