Airbnb will help to house 100,000 COVID-19 responders

Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky has released a statement announcing how the company is planning to help the cause.

Yesterday, short-term lettings platform Airbnb revealed that it would open up homes to people working amid the coronavirus outbreak. It plans to provide accommodation to 100,000 workers across the UK. This includes healthcare staff, relief workers and first responders.

Airbnb is calling on its community of hosts, who are likely to have empty rental properties right now, to help. They can do this by either offering their property for free, or Airbnb will waive all their fees if this is not possible. For those who can’t offer a property, the platform is asking for donations instead.

More convenient for COVID-19 responders

Brian Chesky, who co-founded Airbnb in 2008, took to Twitter yesterday to announce the plans.

He added: “Hosts opt in to provide clean homes that follow safety and cleanliness protocols based on recommendations from the CDC. These homes will be more convenient because they are typically closer to where responders are working.

“We are partnering with organizations such as the International Federation of Red Cross, IRC, and International Medical Corps to support their relief workers on the front lines.”

“We started with pilots in Italy and France, and nearly 6,000 heroic hosts have already signed up. Today we are expanding accommodations for COVID-19 responders globally.”

On its website, Airbnb has included a “robust list of cleaning and safety protocols” for everyone to follow. Due to the current social distancing guidelines, only hosts with entire properties available will be eligible. Those who rent out spare rooms or shared accommodation can’t apply.

For those who want to donate money, Airbnb says the funds will go towards one of its non-profit partners helping with the relief efforts. This includes the Red Cross, the International Rescue Committee and the International Medical Corps. Donations will help connect workers with free or subsidised housing during the outbreak.

Halt to short-term lettings

The holiday let and short-term lettings market has been booming in the UK recently. “Staycations” are on the rise, and more holiday-makers now favour something more “quirky” and individual than a hotel. As such, platforms like Airbnb have been doing very well.

In the buy-to-let market, recent regulatory changes have encouraged many landlords to diversify. The removal of Section 24 mortgage interest relief has affected profits for some landlords, along with the 3% stamp duty levy that applies. By contrast, a furnished holiday let falls under a different remit, and has been touted by many as a more tax-efficient way of investing.

However, people across the UK – and many other countries – are now being told to stay in their homes. People are no longer booking trips anywhere, and this includes short-term lets and Airbnb stays. Some hosts have been trying to find long-term renters for their once short-term lets. It remains to be seen what will happen, but the sector is expected to see a full revival once the worst of the pandemic is behind us.

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