Airbnb

It is unlawful for owners to let out their homes in London without planning permission on short-term lets for an aggregate of more than 90 nights in any calendar year. Airbnb has now announced that it will automatically limit the listing on its system of whole flats and houses for short-lets in Greater London to an aggregate of 90 nights a year, following pressure from a number of London councils including RBKC. This is welcome, but it does not prevent owners from letting through other online or traditional agencies as well.

Short-term letting of whole flats or houses has become a major problem in central London after the Government in 2015 allowed short-term lettings for up to 90 nights in aggregate in any calendar year, and it is estimated that there are now nearly 3,000 listings in RBKC on Airbnb alone.  This activity (often by commercial operators with multiple listings) is reducing the number of flats and houses available to rent to long-term residents, at a time when the Government and the Mayor are demanding that more and more houses and flats be built for long-term occupation.  It is also driving up rents for such long-term tenancies as remain. Short-term letting is almost always a breach of the lease under which a leasehold house or flat is held and may also invalidate the insurance.

There is also the disruption and security risk which it causes to neighbours, especially in blocks of flats, where neighbours  find that one or more flats have been turned into small hotels, with new and unknown persons coming and going all the time (often very early in the morning or very late at night due to airline flight times), often partying all night long, knowing that they will soon be moving on, and disregarding the fact that residents of the other flats expect to live in peace and quiet.

It is also impacting unfairly on local hotels and B&Bs who have to pay business-rates and comply with a wide range of legislation.

It is suspected that a lot of income generated through short-term lettings is not declared, and owners can expect a visit from the tax inspector, who will of course have access to all the online and local listings.

We do not think that the 2015 change in the law has been a success, and the law should be restored to its previous position, so that owners are not allowed to rent out a whole house or flat on a tenancy for LESS THAN 90 days, without planning permission.

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