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Agents call for fees ban to cover Airbnb-style services

ARLA Propertymark is calling on the Government to clarify the role of online platforms such as Airbnb.

Agents expressed concern at a seminar, hosted by Islington Trading Standards, that websites such as Airbnb could effectively be conducting agency services such as taking deposits and charging rent, but don’t have to follow regulations on the fees ban or client money protection.

Speaking at the seminar, Timothy Douglas, senior policy and campaigns officer for ARLA Propertymark, said the Government needs to define Airbnb’s role. He said: “Is it hospitality or is it part of the private rental sector? That is a challenge they don’t want to go into. They need to define it – the longer they leave it the worse the problem could get. At the moment it is a local authority issue and a planning matter. I would certainly engage with local authorities and MPs and make them aware of what is going on.”

Another speaker at the event, Andrew Hadley, assistant director of consumer policy at the Competition and Markets Authority, said the body hasn’t thought about this issue but recognised there was more that could be done. He highlighted incoming European consumer laws that would make websites such as Airbnb have to make their charges clearer.

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