The Short-Term Accommodation Association (STAA) has announced it has appointed Quality in Tourism (QIT) to carry out assessments of homestay properties such as Airbnb as part of an accreditation programme.
The “Safe, Clean and Legal” accreditation will be carried out annually and will determine whether a property is safe and “fit for purpose”.
It is the first accreditation scheme of its kind for the wider homestay industry.
The programme was piloted last year and STAA has started rolling it out to its members.
STAA members include Airbnb, HomeAway, Airsorted and onefinestay, among others.
The accreditation requires operators to complete and online application, make payment and email copies of insurance documentation to QIT, which will then organise for an assessor to visit the property. If it passes, QIT will award it Safe, Clean and Legal accreditation for 12 months.
Property assessments will check for the presence of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, that the home is covered by insurance and that it is clean and meets customer expectations.
The STAA says some hosts will be required to get accreditation before they can list their home with specific agencies or platforms, and this could be included in their agency fees or they might be asked to apply directly.
Short-term letting companies and agencies can also receive accreditation by going through a standards review. A percentage of properties listed by these companies will be inspected and awarded the Safe, Clean and Legal kite-mark if they pass inspection.
The accreditation programme could be a step in the right direction in the minds of corporates, with some travel managers not including homestay properties in their policies because there has historically been no guarantee of quality or safety for such accommodation options.
Deborah Heather, director of QIT, commented: “The lack of assessment in this sector has been shockingly lacking, putting customers at real risk of injury or worse. As the popularity of short-term holiday lets has been increasing throughout the country, the consumer has become more and more vulnerable.
“Consumers have assumed that they are safe when renting from shared economy booking platforms, but the reality is that it isn’t mandatory for accommodation to even install a smoke alarm. This announcement is a major step forward for the industry and we’re proud to be a part of it.”
Merilee Karr, CEO and founder of UnderTheDoormat and chair of the STAA, added: “This is a really exciting announcement for the short-term letting industry in the UK and Beyond. As CEO of a member company, as well as STAA chair, I am passionate about setting the bar for high standards in our growing industry and delighted that short-term accommodation hosts and property management companies can now all apply to be independently assessed and accredited on their ‘safe, clean and legal’ standards.
“It is a great example of the concrete steps that the STAA is taking to increase consumer transparency and create an environment for the responsible growth of the short-term accommodation industry.”