Hospitality Today Christmas 2016 - Jan 2017 - Page 10

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| Hospitality Today | Christmas 2016 / January 2017

Airbnb ‘ not responsible ’

Hotels and B & Bs who comply with regulations and pay taxes complain that it is a huge disadvantage to them to be undercut by those who fail to do either – and to be allowed to do so by complacent policymakers and sleepy regulators .
The BHA and B & B Association protest the unfairness of their members being held to comply with some 140 rules , regulations and requirements whilst their newest commercial competitors on ‘ peer-to-peer platforms ’ like Airbnb go unchecked and ( in effect ) unregulated . No wonder , they say , Airbnb grew by a further 73 % last year . Though the rules do apply to them too , they are not enforced by regulators .
To add insult to injury , ministers have greeted the ‘ disruptors ’ with an enthusiastic and seemingly unqualified welcome .
Meanwhile consumers are surprised to find they are unprotected – as were Jess Paterson and her friends , who were badly injured in an Airbnb rental in Brighton when the balcony collapsed , 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 , of course , denied any responsibility . 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 .
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 vicims ’ solicitor said the website has refused requests to provide financial assistance .
“ We provide all hosts in the UK with Host Protection Insurance which provides insurance coverage for up to $ 1 million in the rare event of an injury ”, the Airbnb website says . However , it is not clear if this insurance applies , if a claim will be allowed and if so , if it will succeed .
Even if it did , the $ 1m limit applies to the total claim and all legal costs – which is unlikely to be enough for adequate compensation to four badly injured victims and to reimburse their legal costs .