Rishi Sunak confronted by angry resident plagued by AirBnb parties with ‘hot tubs and karaoke’
Rishi Sunak has been confronted by an angry resident over AirBnbs being used for parties, and was faced with demands for more rules for short-term holiday lets.
It comes after the prime minister announced a new £160m crackdown on anti-social behaviour. Under the new rules, drinking alcohol at bus stops and war memorials will be banned, and four-figure fines for graffiti and fly-tipping, as well as a ban on nitrous oxide.
The plans also include a proposed council register of short-term holiday lets, so that “if a let proves problematic, they can take action against guests and owners”.
Mr Sunak took questions from locals at a community centre during a visit to Chelmsford, and was confronted by Jeff Jones - who told the prime minister he is facing problems after his former local pub was turned into a large Airbnb rental.
He said: “These places are let by the owners to groups of people with no control whatsoever.
“They can come in and they can use the facilities there – in this particular case they have 10-person hot tubs and karaoke rooms.
“Anti-social behaviour and especially noise nuisance can go on through the night and there is no restriction, and I think they really should be addressing the problem these are causing with maybe some regulations coming in.
“I’m not walking the alleyways and backstreets of Chelmsford looking at this, but it goes on.”
Mr Sunak replied: “Let me take that away. I’ve got a feeling we are looking at that, from memory.”
Home secretary Suella Braverman visited the Essex town alongside Mr Sunak and the pair were heckled and told to “go away” during a short walkabout in the town centre.
One woman shouted “allow migrants into our country” and “refugees should be allowed in Britain”. The woman added: “Go away. We don’t want you here.”
Mr Sunak was then driven to Chelmsford Boxing Club, where he spoke about his anti-social behaviour action plan and took questions from a crowd.
The plans will see more on-the-spot fines issued, with fly-tipping and graffitiing punishable with fines of up to £1,000, and drug tests carried out in an effort to see offences rapidly and publicly punished. Those caught breaking the rules will be made to clean up the streets within 48 hours instead of going to court.
The prime minister also vowed action against begging networks run by organised crime, while landlords will get extra help to evict nuisance tenants.
The government will also ban nitrous oxide - known as laughing gas - with plans to make it a Class C dug before the end of 2023.
New rules will also widen the ability of police to routinely drug test suspects in custody to include domestic abusers and people accused of violence against women and girls among other offenders.
Social housing tenants are also expected to face a new “three strikes and you are out” rule over anti-social behaviour like loud parties late at night.
A cash injection will be rolled out to fund police patrols in areas where gangs congregate and leave nitrous oxide canisters, such as children’s playgrounds, under the new plans.
In total, 16 areas will conduct trials of either Immediate Justice or Hotspot Policing, with four police and crime commissioner jurisdictions - Northumbria, Cleveland, Derbyshire and Durham - trying out both.
The government aims to roll out the measures across England and Wales from 2024.
In a wide-ranging speech setting out his vision for the country in 2023, the prime minister said in January he wanted to provide fresh powers to police forces, mayors and local authorities to ensure “these crimes will be quickly and visibly punished”.
Mr Sunak said his government would focus on reducing crime and anti-social behaviour to make communities better and safer places to live.
The prime minister vowed to continue with Boris Johnson’s “levelling up” vision.
But he warned that “all the regeneration in the world won’t mean anything unless people feel safe in their communities”.
Mr Sunak also said 20,000 police would have been hired by the spring – a promise made in the 2019 Tory manifesto. But the pledge comes following 13 years of cuts to frontline policing.
Recorded instances of criminal damage to shops, schools, leisure centres and businesses have increased by more than 30 per cent over the past year, Labour analysis found.
An Airbnb spokesman said: “Parties are banned on Airbnb and our industry-leading prevention technology blocked more than 84,000 people in the UK from making certain unwanted bookings last year alone.
“Our 24/7 hotline for neighbours means anyone can contact us directly about a concern with a listing and we investigate and take action on reports received.
“We are committed to being good partners to local communities in the UK, and have long supported the introduction of a national short-term lets register to give authorities better visibility of activity in their area.”