UK hotel industry in uproar over possible Airbnb legalization

Since its emergence as a leading alternative lodging option, Airbnb has caused quite a fuss all around the world in terms of its legal merit. Airbnb is a website that allows users to temporarily rent their homes, or rooms within their homes, to travelling guests. The United Kingdom is the latest country to take the lodging website to court, and the local hotel industry isn't happy with the outcome.

On Feb. 9, 2015, U.K. lawmakers amended a rule that bans residents from being allowed to rent their homes out through Airbnb, giving property renters a chance to lend their homes to travellers for up to 90 days a year. This is only the latest legal battle between Airbnb and metropolitan cities around the world, and a sign that lawmakers may finally be embracing this startup company.

Prior to the ruling, renters were banned from charging others to stay at their homes through sites such as Airbnb. The Guardian reports that fines could reach up to 20,000 Euro for renting out these spaces without permission from their landlord. The law banning short-term renting had been in place in the UK Iong before Airbnb was created, however, the rising popularity of the website is what called for a revision of the dated policy.

Not everyone is excited with the ruling, however, as the British Hospitality Association had been lobbying against the rule change for the past few years. Airbnb is also being challenged in cities such as New York and Barcelona, where the latter has outright banned the company and the former is performing an ongoing investigation into whether the site violates various zoning infractions.

Nonetheless, representatives of Airbnb — such as Patrick Robinson, head of public policy for Airbnb in Canada and Europe — acknowledge how much the ruling means for the company.

"The policy statement published today confirms that Londoners should be able to share their homes with guests from all over the world – just like residents in the rest of the UK," Robinson stated in a press release. "These reforms will help locals meet the cost of living in one of the most expensive cities in the world. It is good news for our hosts and it is good news for London – which now takes a lead in the global race to embrace the sharing economy."

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