Bed & Breakfast News Christmas 2016 (#43) - Page 12

12 | Bed & Breakfast News | Christmas 2016 Trying to level the playing-field with Airbnb Longstanding members and regular readers will know that the Association has been campaigning since 2012 on the unfairness of our members being held to comply with some 140 rules, regulations and requirements whilst our newest commercial competitors on “peer-to-peer platforms” like Airbnb go unchecked and (in effect) unregulated (though the rules do apply to them too, but are not checked by Airbnb and are not enforced by regulators). We think it is a huge disadvantage to traditional B&Bs, who comply with regulations and pay taxes, to be undercut by those who fail to do either – and to be allowed to do so by complacent policymakers and sleepy regulators. No wonder Airbnb grew by a further 73% last year, and now has twice as many listings in London alone as there are B&Bs in the whole of the UK! Some might say that any business could grow if unfettered by the boring requirement to make themselves safe for consumers. Those consumers, it seems, are surprised when they find they are unprotected as for example, were Jess Paterson and her friends, who were badly injured in an Airbnb rental in Brighton when the balcony collapsed. Airbnb, of course, denied any liability. Jess Paterson said of Airbnb: “It’s like they don’t care. They haven’t provided us with anything: acknowledgement, apology, financial support for our ongoing needs. I sometimes get a bit depressed thinking of what’s happened and what might have happened,” she added. The flat had been rented for a 30th birthday celebration in July, and guests at the party used the balcony throughout the night. It collapsed just before midnight, with three of the four injured falling two storeys to basement level. The fourth fell to street level and was impaled through the torso, narrowly missing his vital organs. All four required emergency surgery. Since the accident one of the victims has been unable to work, and two of them had to cancel their wedding and honeymoon. Airbnb said safety is its “number one priority” and that problems like this are “incredibly rare”, and said “As soon as we were aware of the incident, we reached out to the guest to provide support”, but it refused to comment further on the basis that this is an ongoing case. The victims’ solicitor said the website has refused requests to provide financial assistance.