Today a friend called to share the shocking news that his daughter and her fiance went on an Airbnb stay in Derbyshire. They did so with a plan to confound the police if required.
“They were stopped by the police at Euston and just said they were ‘going home’ as she is a teacher and it’s half term. Then on the way back my daughter’s boyfriend evaded the police by using the tube.
“Seems risky to me, it’s such a chutzpah but, hey, they’re young”.
This aberrant behaviour happens so frequently that it has caused a national Sunday newspaper to investigate. They found that Airbnb owners were willing to host guests for trips this month, including over the half-term which starts today.
It’s such a chutzpah but, hey, they’re young.
This comes at a time when it is illegal to travel beyond five miles of your home and at a time when most are doing their best to collaborate in government efforts to diminish the rate that the virus spreads.If this wanton disregard of the collective good has inflamed you, I get it. And we are not alone in being piqued in this way.
The national lockdown and it’s ‘stay at home’ messages combined with strict government guidelines seems to be devoid of meaning for those who consider themselves above the law and the collective good.
There are exceptions of course for instance those moving house, for work or fleeing domestic abuse. Yet research carried out by the Observer found that half of the Airbnb hosts it messaged to book a trip outside of these reasons, in locations such as London, Margate, Birmingham and Whitstable, were happy to proceed with the booking.
When asked if it was possible to bring a child over half-term, one Airbnb owner in Birmingham responded: “Yes, you’re very welcome. Three minutes’ walk away is a lovely boating lake/reservoir. Lots of ducks and wildlife.”
Another replied: “Yes, you can stay with your son … Looking forward to being your host.”
It is as if these people are either blissfully unaware or live in a world where nothing matters. Despite probing questions on the Airbnb site guests are managing to flout these rules because property owners are willing to host them.
The Airbnb gateway to illegals stays is not isolated. Booking.com were also found to be allowing people to book trips on their platforms.
The ‘sharing economy’ shouldn’t escape regulation entirely.
Owners on Booking.com clearly state that you will need to bring evidence to support your stay, yet some properties did not stipulate extra measures and it appeared that a holidaymaker could book a trip without any stringent checks in place.
Karen Buck, the Labour MP for Westminster North, who has spoken out about Airbnb previously, told the Observer:
“Short-let accommodation platforms need to take their responsibilities very seriously, and make clear to hosts that they will not be permitted to flout the rules.
“It simply can’t be left to hard-pressed local councils or national government to monitor and enforce, while both platforms and hosts benefit from the income. This appears to demonstrate why the ‘sharing economy’ shouldn’t escape regulation entirely.”
One Airbnb host in Margate, who asked not to be named, said:
“‘We were asked if it was possible for a group of four friends to come to our Airbnb, which of course legally and morally we had to decline,” she said. “While we are aware people are desperate for some respite, it is a national lockdown. It’s very frustrating that some think the rules don’t apply to them.”
A spokesperson for Airbnb responded:
“We take these reports very seriously and are investigating the cases that have been brought to our attention. With lockdowns in place across the UK, stays on Airbnb are only available in limited circumstances, in line with government guidance. The vast majority of hosts follow the rules and our website restricts bookings to guests with legal exemptions.”
A spokesperson for Booking.com said:
“During this rapidly evolving time, Booking.com is committed to featuring information across its site reiterating to customers that there are currently travel restrictions to consider in many destinations.
“We have also set up tools to make it easier for accommodations to provide clear information to guests about what national and local measures mean, and to indicate any conditions that may apply, including requiring proof of essential travel where relevant.”