Today, many commercial landlords are making use of sharing economy services to bring in extra cash from previously unused spaces. However, following concern from major industry bodies about how landlords are using these sites, could the sharing economy's potential soon be over for property managers?
The arrival of simple, user-friendly platforms like Share My Office or Hubble HQ has made it easier for landlords to rent out and earn money on their smaller or unoccupied commercial spaces. What’s more, landlords benefit from the fact that these websites also help tenants to sub-let unused spaces – something that could mean the difference between meeting or missing their rent payments.
Reaction from industry bodies and lawmakers
Recent criticism from important trade and industry bodies like the American Hotel & Lodging Association claim that certain platforms are fast becoming a shortcut for commercial landlords to avoid taxes and regulation – and lawmakers are reacting quickly to address these issues.
Airbnb recently removed 130 Vancouver listings because they appeared to belong to "commercial operators". Public Policy Manager for Airbnb Canada, Alex Dagg, said the listings: "[did not] meet the standards and priorities of our community, nor the guest experience we seek to provide".
In Dublin, a landmark decision from Ireland's independent planning appeals body An Bord Pleanála has paved the way for Airbnb to prevent landlords from listing residential spaces as commercial short-term lets. Governor of New York Andrew Mark Cuomo went further, approving legislation that prevents apartments from being rented for less than 30 days unless the host is in the property at the same time.
Clarification of any new regulations in the UK for landlords' use of these services will certainly be welcome, particularly for smaller markets like co-working and office sharing that exist alongside headline-grabbers like Airbnb. However, lawmakers will need to be careful not to accidentally punish commercial landlords in their attempts to make individuals subject to the same rules and regulations that professionals must obey. Ensuring that commercial landlords and their tenants can make use of new, innovative platforms to maximise occupancy rates is both essential and fair.
If you're a property manager looking for ways to improve your cash flow and recover commercial rent arrears, find out how ethical Enforcement Agents can help.