Housing Supply and Rents Research

The Spread of the Bedroom Boom

Airbnb, Bedroom Boom
Dr Tom Simcock
Written by Dr Tom Simcock

The use of Airbnb in the UK has exploded over the last 12 months. In our previous research report into Airbnb we identified a growth of 27% between February 2016 and June 2016 alone, to a staggering 42,646 listings in London. Our latest research report into Airbnb created a lot of discussion in terms of whether this was good for the supply of housing in London.

Especially as Berlin has recently banned the advertisement of whole apartments on Airbnb. San Francisco is currently in a legal battle regarding fines with Airbnb, and New York is currently considering banning the advertisement of apartment sublets of less than 30 days. However, an article covering our research in the Yorkshire Post caught our eye, where a landlord in Leeds was able to triple his income by advertising on Airbnb as a short term let rather than longer term letting in the private rented sector. Suggesting that the growth of the usage Airbnb in the UK has not been limited to London.

Is this a London only issue?

There is now evidence to suggest the Airbnb phenomena is spreading across the UK, with Edinburgh and Manchester following London. The latest data on InsideAirbnb.com confirms this with nearly 50,000 listings across these three cities alone. There are no surprises with the majority of these listings being located in London, as it is a major international tourist destination. However, the ever growing reaches of the sharing economy to other parts of the country is something to take note of.

Edinburgh as the capital city of Scotland has the most listings after London. With 6,272 listings in July 2016, and 55% of these were entire home/apartment listings. Manchester on the other hand, only had 865 listings in April 2016 and 41% of these were entire home/apartment listings. But, what is surprising is the estimated average nights the listing is rented out per year, with Manchester listings on average being used for more nights per year than London and Edinburgh.

Estimated average nights rented out per year

Manchester, again ranks higher than London and Edinburgh with the proportion of listings with high availability. While, this does not indicate usage, but rather where the ‘host’ has indicated the property is available to rent on their Airbnb calendar. We argue this indicates the potential plan to utilise the property on a long term basis rather than the occasional usage when the property owner is on holiday. 84% of Manchester listings had high availability compared to 63% of London listings and 64% of Edinburgh listings.


Number of listings with high availability


However, what is concerning is the number of multi-listings (where the ‘host’ has more than one listing) across these three cities. With 54% of entire home/apartment listings in Manchester and 43% in Edinburgh identified as multi-listing properties. The full figures are in the table below.

Estimated number of multi-listings (Where host has more than one listing)


Overall, there are concerns on the movement of properties from long term accommodation to short term lets and holiday lets. This is on top of the government’s recent policy changes to the taxation of landlords, with changes to Stamp Duty Land Tax, Capital Gains and Mortgage Interest Relief all announced within the last 12 months. The loss of housing on a long term basis, whether in London, Edinburgh, Manchester or any other part of the country is not conducive to a healthy private rented sector. While increased demand and reduced supply will increase rents in the short term, the far-reaching consequences for tenants, landlords and society could be potentially devastating. But what is clear, business is booming for those advertising on Airbnb with an estimated annual revenue of £341,069,544 across these three cities.Some of these multi-listings could be due to new agencies that have been set up to capitalise on the growth of the sharing economy, where these agencies advertise and look after your property for you, leaving you hassle free. However, there will also be those with multiple properties who are now advertising as a short term let to avoid the government’s unfair taxation of the private rented sector.

About the author

Dr Tom Simcock

Dr Tom Simcock

Tom is the Senior Researcher for the RLA and leads the RLA’s research lab; the Private renting Evidence, Analysis and Research Lab (PEARL). His expertise lies in researching change in society, public policy and quantitative and qualitative research methodologies. Tom’s research on housing has received national media coverage, featuring on the front page of The Times, has influenced government policy making, and has been cited in debates in the House of Commons, House of Lords and by the London Mayor.


  • Strikes a raw nerve this !
    Have let a nice standard two bedder in the near London suburbs,only to find the tenant not paying his rent and subletting on air BNB with a totally different name!
    Totally outrageous £80 per night plus cleaning and admin charge. Thank goodness I have protection policy in place,but never the less it is the disturbance in a nice neighbourhood and as usual time consuming and skewed in the tenants favour. There have even been reports of a film shoot!!!!
    And what else ??…..the mind boggles.
    Unfortunately in future I will be very wary of a certain type of tenant!!!! and that would be sad if genuine applicants were declined.

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