Hostmaker pulls “misguided” adverts after criticism

UK: After criticism for appearing to encourage landlords to let their properties to short-let visitors only, Hostmaker has brought down “misguided” rental adverts on the TfL network.

The firm, which launched in 2016, manages London-based properties that are listed on to Airbnb and other lettings platforms, had faced mounting criticism after it was found to be promoting a marketing campaign on Transport for London buses and tubes.

The adverts were seen by some people to be a means of encouraging buy-to-let landlords to convert their properties into more lucrative short-term lets and no longer cater for long-term rental tenants.

In response, Labour’s housing spokesman in the London Assembly launched a high profile campaign criticising the advert. The campaign was endorsed by the Residential Landlords Association as they questioned the legality of Hostmaker’s actions given that properties have a maximum limit of 90 nights per year for short-term lets in the English capital.

Hostmaker London spokesman Renaud Barnoin said in a statement to Letting Agent Today: “We are committed to complying with all rules and regulations in the markets we operate in and the London 90-day rule is no different.

“We provide furnished and managed housing for short-, mid- and long-term rental needs, and our flexible lettings solution is designed for hosts to make the most of short lets and switch to medium and long lets when the 90-day limit is reached, opening housing stock to local demand.

“In a cosmopolitan city like London, there is always going to be a need for a range of housing and rental solutions.

“We were pleased to be one of the inaugural members of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Short Lets and are committed to continuing a dialogue with all parties to ensure the needs of a diverse housing and rental market are addressed,” he added.

Hostmaker, along with other management companies such as City Relay and GuestReady, was subject to debate in February after secret recordings emerged of staff from the firms explaining how they can help landlords in London bypass the 90-day short-term letting limits. The footage appeared in the BBC’s Inside Out London programme.

In a statement provided to ShortTermRentalz, Hostmaker CEO Nakul Sharma said: “We are sorry for the concern caused by our recent ad campaign and we acknowledge the tone was misguided. The adverts will be coming down this weekend and we will be reviewing all future creatives with our partners.

“In a cosmopolitan city like London, there is a need for a range of housing and rental solutions to meet the needs of the wide variety of residents and visitors in our capital city. Whilst it’s critical that there is plenty of affordable housing stock available, our portfolio is made up of premium homes in zone one and two postcodes and does not take affordable housing stock away from the market.

“We are here to meet the needs of Londoners and visitors to the capital who would prefer to stay in a high quality, furnished and managed home service.

We provide a flexible lettings model to homeowners of these type of properties; blending long-term, mid-term and short-term rentals to suit market demands and help homeowners weather the current slump in rent prices and property sales, ensuring they aren’t left with gaps in the year when their property is standing empty,” he added.

For more information, visit the Hostmaker website here.