Airbnb rules start in London, few hosts ask for a license

A month after London began licensing Airbnb, Vrbo and other short-term accommodation (STA) – only a handful of applications have been received.

According to the town hall, only 20 applications are being examined.

Meanwhile, nearly 700 local rentals are listed on Airbnb’s website, though it’s unclear how many will meet the requirements for a license.

“No, we haven’t applied for a license yet,” says a London-based Airbnb host who asked not to be identified by name. “When the license is almost as expensive as the sanction, there is this cost-benefit analysis.”

Operating without a license could prove costly, fines start at $500 per day and could be doubled for repeat offenders.

The host tells CTV News that she supports inspections to ensure fire safety and other industry standards, but London’s regulations are too expensive and restrictive.

“I agree that a license should be applicable to AirBnB, I (believe) just that the city council gave it due consideration,” she said.

Requirements for a license include:

  • Pay an annual fee of $175
  • Charge guests the 4% municipal hotel tax
  • Submission to a possible inspection
  • Rented space must be at the host’s primary residence

The ‘main residence’ requirement effectively ends out-of-town accommodation and multiple units in London.

In June, several councilors expressed hope that the requirement would eliminate harmful parties and potentially put some properties back on the housing market.

Some investigations are already underway.

In a statement, Municipal Compliance Director Orest Katolyk wrote: “Active compliance investigations (are) underway where the owner does not reside at the advertised address.”

Katolyk adds that the licenses granted this fall will be valid until the end of 2023.

Application for commercial licenses for qualifying rentals will begin on February 1.

“I am skeptical that the town hall has the capacity (to) follow up on these situations”, explains the host.

She claims a long-term rental license for another property took over a year.

Short-stay accommodation license applications can be submitted on the city’s website.

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