Airbnb hosts advertise properties as 'Covid-19 retreats'

Airbnb hosts are branded ‘dangerous and irresponsible’ after advertising properties as ‘Covid-19 retreats’ and ‘perfect for isolating’ during coronavirus lockdown

  • Some hosts were advertising properties as ‘Covid-19 retreats’ on the website
  • Some owners have also allowed some to make instant bookings without vetting 
  • The SNP’s Ian Blackford, warned that ‘irresponsible’ Airbnb hosts must stop 

Airbnb owners breaching the coronavirus lockdown rules by advertising their properties as ‘Covid-19 retreats’ have been branded as ‘dangerous and irresponsible’.

The hosts, who have listed their homes as being ‘perfect for isolating with family’ or an ‘idyllic cottage’, have continued to flout Government lockdown rules which state only keyworkers should be the sole recipients of holiday accommodation amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The property owners on the popular rental site have also been allowing those seeking a home away from home to make instant bookings without any vetting, the BBC reported.    

The SNP’s Westminster Leader Ian Blackford, whose constituency includes Skye which has of the highest concentrations of such lets in the country, warned today that ‘irresponsible’ Airbnb hosts must stop immediately. 

Some Airbnb hosts have been breaching the coronavirus lockdown rules by advertising their properties as ‘Covid-19 retreats’. (Stock image)

The SNP’s Westminster Leader Ian Blackford warned that ‘irresponsible’ Airbnb hosts must stop immediately

Mr Blackford said: ‘Irresponsible letting must stop immediately. I will have no hesitation in bringing it to the attention of the police. We need people to stay away from the Highlands at this crucial time.’

Following the discovery, Tourism Minister Nigel Huddleston told the BBC: ‘Our advice is clear. Essential travel does not include holidays, leisure travel and visits to second homes – and people must remain in their primary residence.

‘It is incredibly irresponsible, and dangerous for some property owners to be marketing themselves as ‘isolation retreats’.

‘We are writing to companies today to remind them of their responsibilities at this time.’   

MailOnline has contacted Airbnb for comment.

The discovery comes after a recent survey showed that the north-west of Skye had the second-highest concentration of Airbnb in the UK, at 25 listings per 100 properties.

previous analysis by the Chartered Institute of Housing found that one in 10 properties on Skye were being listed on Airbnb.

The island’s housing association even wrote to tenants warning them against cashing-in by sub-letting their homes to visitors.

Skye and Lochalsh Housing Association said they could be violating their tenancy agreement by using short-term letting websites such as Airbnb. 

Last month one owner offered 23 lets on Skye as ‘isolation solutions’ for £100 per person per night. 

Ben Greer urged those on the mainland to ‘protect your loved ones’ from the spread of Covid-19 by heading to ‘one of the most beautiful destinations on the planet where it’s easy to avoid people’. 

The property owners have been allowing people to stay at their retreats despite the Government lockdown guidelines in place. (Stock image)

However the former Royal Air Force Chinook crewman later retracted the invitation.

Mr Greer said that he came up with the plan before the government hardened its guidance on non-essential travel. He added that he had removed the advertisement and accepted that he had made a ‘huge mistake’.

Mr Blackford said he had been told of some companies who have been advertising ‘late availability’ – including over Easter – in the Highlands.

The MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber has already called for emergency powers to be used to stop second home owners seeking to self isolate in the Highlands.

Mr Blackford said the law should be used to stop such people trying to out run coronavirus – but who were at the same time endangering local residents.

Now Mr Blackford says those seeking to cash-in and let out their homes during the lochdown should feel the full force of the law.

He continued: ‘One constituent contacted me about one company which was adversing ‘late availability’ on a number of properties in the Highlands, including over Easter.

‘But I’m now assured that this was a case of the website not catching up with the changed situation and that no properties are being let.

‘However I have heard of other examples and I find this absolutely incredible when the emergency legislation forbids this. It is a brazen flouting of the law and puts local communities needlessly at risk – and I won’t hesitate to contact the police.’


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