The fast-growing short-term lettings market could benefit from regulation, according to lettings payment automation provider PayProp.
Neil Cobbold, chief operating officer of PayProp UK, said that professionalisation of short-lets, akin to that seen in traditional lettings, is needed to provide the necessary protection for all stakeholders.
Cobbold said: “The fast growth of this market shows there is a clear appetite for this type of accommodation, but short-lets could benefit from regulation in order for the sector to be sustainable.
“There is currently no mandatory regulation of short-lets, which is concerning when you consider that landlords now have to comply with 156 regulations to let a property long-term – a rise of 32% in just nine years, according to the Residential Landlords Association.”
Cobbold said that there have been several high-profile cases where regulation of the short-term lettings market could have protected landlords, tenants and agents from rogue operators.
The Apprentice star Lord Sugar recently claimed that scammers had used images of one of his London properties to create a fake Airbnb listing, costing a group of American tourists $600.
This follows the news that Airbnb has promised to review all of the properties on its platform after a Vice News investigation found many misleading or false property listings on its site.
Cobbold added: “The number of stories of short-term lets being mismanaged or used to scam people appears to be growing.
“The unregulated nature of the sector is likely to be a contributing factor to this as fraudsters see a fast-growing market where there are opportunities to make large sums of money quickly and very few rules to comply with.”
A new industry-specific trade body, The Professional Host Alliance, launched at the end of last month.
The body claims that its mission is to ‘accelerate the professionalisation of a sustainable, global short-term rental sector and build trust in the home-sharing economy’.
Cobbold said: “The launch of a trade body for short-lets firms is welcome and hopefully it can build momentum by signing up some of the industry’s biggest names.
“Introducing more rules for short-term let landlords and agents to follow, as well as minimum standards for hosts to meet, could represent the next steps of progress.
“Managing short-lets undoubtedly provides letting agencies with a huge opportunity, but there needs to be more parallels with traditional private rentals for this new revenue stream to be ultimately safe and successful.”