SHORT term holiday lets 'like Air BnB' are being used as ‘pop-up brothels’ across Oxford, the council says.

Oxford City Council is looking to crack down on the seedy short-term lets, which have been reported in some of the city’s most well-heeled areas.

The Oxford Mail understands one such incident involving a 'pop-up' brothel in Jericho is currently the focus of an ongoing police investigation.

The short-term let in this case was not provided through Air BnB. 

Alex Hollingsworth, Oxford City Council board member for planning and regulatory services said: “We know of short-term lets in Oxford being used as ‘pop-up’ brothels associated with sex trafficking, and reports of parties with up to 100 guests suddenly appearing in residential areas.

“The original idea of short-term lets was to rent out unused rooms, or houses that were empty because the owners were on holiday themselves, for a few days at a time.

“What we now see in Oxford, like other cities, is properties essentially being used as hotels or guest-houses, but without any of the regulation and safety checks that hotels and guest houses undertake.”

Air BnB said it had not been made aware of any issues by the council and pointed out there were a number of short-term let providers operating in Oxford.

The company say unlike other platforms, Air BnB uses sophisticated technologies and 'behavioural analysis sustems' to help prevent potentially troublesome hosts or guests from utilising Air BnB.

This morning, Oxford sex worker Charlotte Rose told BBC Oxford she used Air BnB to entertain clients.


Mr Hollingsworth has backed calls by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) for legislation to regulate short-term lets like those available through Airbnb.


He added: “While the issue isn’t as big in Oxford as it is in London, we are seeing increasing numbers of properties being used permanently as short-term lets, and with that come increasing problems.”


In January RBKC met with Air BnB representatives to discuss the issues related to short-term lets in the capital, however, the committee accepted that the issue was not specific to one company.

There are numerous sites on which short term let can be booked in Oxford, and Air BnB is just once of many in a growing market.

A one-night stay at an Oxford Airbnb later this month can range from £15 for a basic single bedroom to more than £3,000 for more extravagant surroundings.  

Former council leader Bob Price told the BBC: "The problem with Air Bnb are you don't know what they are being used for, whether it's for brothel or usually a large party of people who come from a few days and don't have a great interest in the local area and don't care for the neighbours. 

"In this area we've had a couple of very bad cases where properties have been let out on Air BnB and for parties, birthdays and stag nights.

"They are extremely noisey and create huge problems. The unregulation of Air Bnb is the problem."

Mr Price said while he was leader he had reports of out of control parites in East Oxford, St Clements and Headington.

Mr Hollingsworth revealed the council receives reports on such activities at least once a week and said the problem poses a significant safety risk.

He said: “A big ‘pay party’ or a brothel next to you, those are serious problems if you’re living next door to that.

“But there’s another issue and that is the risk to the people using these places. A house rented out for a party where there are no fire escapes or thoughts around safety – the risks to those people attending is huge.”

Responding to the reports of 'pop-up' brothels, the Air BnB spokesman said the platform is not allowed to be used for prostitution and the firm, which works closely with the police, uses automated systems to help detect unwanted behaviour.

The spokesman added: "We have zero tolerance for this type of nehaviour and permanently remove bad actors form our platform.

"Over 260million people have travelled on Air BnB and bad experiences are extremely rare."