Almost half the properties on Airbnb in big cities across the UK are being offered by landlords as they convert long-term rentals into holiday lets, a report claims.
Professional property owners have turned to the accommodation sharing website in record numbers after a crackdown on buy-to-let borrowers by former chancellor George Osborne, according to the first detailed analysis of Airbnb.
The Residential Landlords Association, which compiled the report, said the surge of homes on the website was fuelling the housing crisis and risked driving up rents.
Airbnb is thought to list up to 100,000 UK properties.
More than half of listings in London, Manchester and Edinburgh are whole flats or houses, meaning that about 25,000 homes which might previously have been available to rent long term are no longer on the market.
Almost half of these are offered by people with more than one listing, suggesting that a growing number of landlords are using the website as a business.
“There is mounting evidence that the use of Airbnb is drifting from its vision of allowing homeowners to occasionally rent out a spare room or their property when on holiday,” The Times quoted from the Residential Landlords Association report. “The sharing economy is enabling businesses and individuals to profit on properties being used on Airbnb and is preventing families, workers and young people from accessing affordable housing.”
Airbnb denies that its website is removing housing stock and points out that people with more than one listing might be homeowners renting out more than one room in their property.
A spokesman told the newspaper: “The typical Airbnb host in London shares their space for 50 nights a year and hosts generated £1.3 billion of economic activity in the capital last year. Hosting on Airbnb puts money in the pockets of regular Londoners.”