The owner of a property used for an illegal party has been fined by a London council for breaking lockdown.
Police were called to an illegal house party at Brick Lane in east London last month after neighbours reported hearing loud music.
After entering the building, police found over 40 people crammed inside, flouting Covid restrictions. Several arrests were made for breaching lockdown regulations, possession of a class B drug and assault on an emergency worker.
The party organiser had rented the property via Airbnb.
National restrictions prohibit the use of holiday accommodation so it is an offence to let a property for holiday purposes. This includes the use of Airbnbs let for the purposes of holding parties.
This month Tower Hamlets council’s environmental health and trading standards service served Fixed Penalty Notices, with fines of £1,000 each, on the owner and tenant for allowing it to be used as holiday accommodation.
John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, says: “We need to ensure residential properties cannot be turned into what are essentially ‘hotels’ when we have pressure on housing supply which drives up rents in the borough.
“This case highlights the impact these short-term lets can have on our residents and I’m pleased that, in partnership with the police, action has been taken.’’
The case comes as Airbnb is in the spotlight north of the border, where the Scottish Government has had to do a U-turn - at least temporarily - over a bid to regulate short lets.
The SNP administration had drawn up a licensing scheme to give councils powers to licence the fast-growing numbers of homes advertised on Airbnb and similar platforms.
But after opposition to the proposals, the government in Holyrood has pulled the measure and will now put a new proposal to parliament in the summer - providing the party wins the upcoming elections.
The licensing scheme proposals followed widespread concern at the proliferation of short lets, especially in Edinburgh and other tourist areas.
The proposals would have given local authorities the right to designate areas where planning permission was needed before properties could be let out; this would also have required stricter health and safety measures in the properties.
Some councils supported the idea but short let platforms and groups such as Scottish Land & Estates did not. However, even some supporters voiced concerns at how the regulation of Airbnb and similar self-catering properties would be separated from already-regulated bed and breakfast properties.
The Scottish Government says that if a revised set of measures are supported in June, local authorities will have until 1 April 2022 to establish local versions of the scheme, with short let owners having until April 2023 to apply for licences.