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As you will have read in our communications and social media channels, we have been working increasingly closely with policymakers over the last year. This has become heightened over the last few weeks with the appointment of the new tourism minister, Julia Lopez MP.

This is in response to the idea of the UK government regulating the short term let industry, following what has happened to the sector in Scotland – and which has affected a number of our operator Members quite dramatically there. I am concerned that the effect such regulation would have on our sector right across the UK and the wider hospitality industry is not being understood by operators at every level. So where is the evidence?

Today’s papers focus on Airbnb, and how the government will be clamping down on so-called ‘party houses’. This is something we have been talking about for a very long time as presenting a danger to both guests and communities in an unregistered, unprofessional element of the short let industry.


Rishi Sunak has just been quoted in the Sunday papers saying: “We will do this by setting up a new registration scheme giving local authorities the data to easily identify short-term lets in their area”. Naturally this should concern many of our members who operate within a residential space, irrespective of the length of stay, as the likelihood of being included in the ‘Airbnb, party house’ classification is evident.

Where we sit in this debate is as a conduit, between the exciting, forward-looking, collaborative – and growing – professionally managed short let industry, and the policy makers trying to keep abreast of what’s happening. So, explaining how our sector differs from random Airbnb hosts, to those with the power to make this a fair and level playing field.

Therefore, a proportionate and fair, light touch registration scheme that calls for evidence of basic health & safety and legal compliance is a positive and reasonable approach, and one that ASAP fully supports. 

Over the last 10 days I have had in-depth meetings with both major parties in the UK representing serviced accommodation and explaining and its place in the economy, making sure it is fully understood and allowed to operate professionally. Our initial research on the serviced apartment sector in England alone has identified the size, workforce and value to the country as significant, with an estimated turnover of around £1.3bn and guest spend of £280m in the local economy.

It is fascinating how little those at the top truly understand sector (I appreciate they have a few other things to think about!) – but at the same time how they see its value. On pretty much every side in the debates where I have been a part it is agreed that some form of registration – light touch, but compulsory – would be one way of assessing the size of the sector and bringing focus on operating ethically, transparently, and professionally.

So, why am I contacting you today?

I am concerned; I don’t truly believe that everyone in the short let sector understands how profound a change it would be, if in banning all ‘party houses’ somehow, professionally operating short, let accommodation is lumped in.

We are so glad to be at the table for this discussion, in a position of influence, on behalf of our membership, and those within the ASAP community, who are The Good Guys. In fact, so close to the decision makers that I came away from last week’s meetings with COVID!

Tomorrow (Wednesday, 29th) we are hosting a roundtable event amongst operators and suppliers in London, at which we will be presenting and discussing our recent work with legislators and policymakers around exactly this issue. And how we’re advising not chucking babies out with bath water.

We will be able to report back better after this discussion on findings from those present, and their reaction to something that has taken literally years to get to this point, and which is suddenly happening now very, very fast.

Watch this space! And thank you for your support.

James Foice, ASAP CEO