Airbnb and other home exchange websites have been warned to improve safety requirements or risk “damaging” the UK’s reputation as a "safe destination".
The warning was issued by the British Hospitality Association (BHA) which is concerned that the UK’s “trusted reputation” as a “high quality and safe destination” could suffer if guest health, safety and security checks are not “properly delivered”.
Home exchange websites allow homeowners to rent out their properties to travellers for short and long term stays. The homeowner decides on the price and the site takes a percentage of the overall cost.
The BHA is asking home exchange websites to ensure that all accommodation listed on their websites comply with mortgage requirements or tenancy agreements.
It said owners must adhere to fire regulations, ensure proper maintenance of gas boilers, appliances and equipment, provide emergency contacts and ensure good housekeeping.
BHA legal and policy director Jackie Grech said: “When private homes are rented to tourists, it's unlikely that these properties have ever had any fire risk or health and safety checks.
“76 per cent of fire deaths in the UK last year were in the home and if you have strangers staying there who aren't familiar with how things work, the risks could increase.”
Grech said Airbnb has pledged to send smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to home owners, and hopes its “follows through on this promise”.
“This is a first step toward encouraging safer home stays in the UK. We strongly urge all home exchange websites to follow suit.”
She added: “We believe that it’s the responsibility of home exchange websites to ensure that owners, and their paying guests, are aware of the risks and take all the necessary regulatory steps to ensure that their homes and their belongings are protected.”
Yesterday (July 16), Airbnb unveiled a new logo as part of the company’s rebranding plans.