Under siege: Mafeking residents fight Airbnb ‘nightmare’

Residents of one Beeston neighborhood are on the brink, eagerly awaiting the outcome of a planning request for developments that they say have already ‘ruined’ their community – in a matter of tremendous importance to the community. general public from South Leeds and beyond.

The promoters, for their part, claim that the inhabitants are waging a “campaign of hatred” against them.

The dispute centers around two houses on Mafeking Grove and Mafeking Avenue, just off Dewsbury Road. These were converted to short-stay, serviced accommodation earlier this year by a company called Aphrodite Suites, and listed on websites, including Airbnb, starting in March.

Aphrodite Suites rents a number of these luxury ‘vacation rentals’ across West Yorkshire, featuring Jacuzzis, smart TVs, upscale amenities and furnishings, and more. they earn up to £ 230 per night. Their lists are replete with rave reviews – although there is also a significant thread of negatives.

On the Mafekings, residents allege that their previously quiet, neighborly dead ends have – to quote one resident – been “ruined” by the antisocial behavior of many Aphrodite Suite guests. They insist that the two houses – two back-to-back bedrooms that open directly onto the street – have hosted week after week (often noisy) sex work and “hookups,” the prolific use of drugs and drugs. alcohol and noisy evenings. – evenings (up to 25 participants) which often spill over into the street.

Following the intervention of the police and Council agents, it emerged that the properties did not have the corresponding building permit – and the owners filed a retrospective application in late July, while (legally) continuing to trade.

Another police involvement saw the properties served with a “partial closure” notice via a court order in August, banning them from having more than four guests at a time. Residents suggest this has improved the situation slightly, but is not monitored by the owners and has been raped on several occasions, including twice in October.

‘Bunny Girls’ at a recent 18th birthday party held in one of the apartments

Residents and their supporters have since filed dozens of objections through the Council’s planning portal – before the case was soon referred to the Planning Panel. These objections relate to stress, anxiety, lack of sleep, bedwetting in children at night, loss of privacy and parking, environmental issues such as urination in the street, and noise and light pollution.

Locals say it was “devastating”, “misery” and “a nightmare”. They say they have documented evidence of everything including photos and video footage – some of which we’ve seen. Several also added that the owners were dismissive, intimidating and even threatening when stopped.

In a joint statement, local moms Rachel and Emma told us:

“We’ve all had enough. A safe and family friendly street has become a street where we don’t let our children play: you never know who is going to be on the street, and there is so much inappropriate behavior.

“We’re exhausted, some of us are now trying to get away, and it feels like we are losing: we are doing everything right, but the owners and guests have not suffered any repercussions.

“The planning system is outdated and takes little account of what residents have to endure, living next to a vacation home, despite the lack of planning permission. No one should have to live like this, ”they said.

Local councilors got involved too, and Cllr Andrew Scopes (Beeston & Holbeck) added:

“My colleagues (Cllrs Angela Gabriel and Gohar Almass) and I are working alongside the residents, the Leeds Antisocial Behavior Team and the police to address the concerns residents have raised with us. Additionally, we oppose backdated planning requests that have been made and encourage those we work with to do the same.

However, Aphrodite Suites has vigorously denied any wrongdoing. Property owner Ozman Hussein told us:

“These are super luxury properties, so we wouldn’t allow parties. I am respectful of neighbors, and I would not allow or do any anti-social behavior. We take the court order very seriously: we show it to all the guests (who are screened), we take their IDs, have them sign forms to make sure they follow the house rules. and make several visits to the site.

“Neighbors say there are sometimes up to 20 people and a lot of cars – but we have CCTV footage to prove this is a fabrication; anyone who wants to see the images is free to do so. Despite all this, the neighbors are waging a campaign of hatred against us.

Locally and globally, the “gig economy” of host families – characterized by brands like Airbnb – is booming. Airbnb is worth £ 30 billion and operates in more than 200 countries, with 150 million users and 4 million hosts, with an average income of around £ 5,000 per year.

The company and others like it have been praised for democratizing the hospitality industry, but are also facing increasing criticism for their unregulated approach.

Concerns center on longtime residents being charged and relocated to certain locations – and also allegations like these, that certain properties cause antisocial behavior.

Leeds experienced several legal battles, including a long-running one over appeals between 2016 and 2019 – which was ultimately resolved in favor of local residents. Some local authorities now regulate properties advertised on Airbnb and similar websites.

Many homestay rentals take place – as the word implies – in the host’s own home (e.g. someone renting out their guest room), and these usually don’t require any accommodation. building permit ; however, in cases where the host is not resident, they do so normally. In addition to reporting to Police and Council, local residents can also report their issues directly to the companies through which the properties are rented – for example, at: airbnb.co.uk / neighbors.

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