Mayor calls for system to enforce short-term letting law

Since 2015, the law has capped short-term lets in London at a total of 90 nights per year.

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The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, is calling on government to introduce a new registration system for anyone wishing to rent out a property for less than 90 days in a calendar year in London.

The calls for change come amid bids to help protect the capital’s housing for long-term residents.

In a letter to Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government James Brokenshire, co-signed by Airbnb and Camden, Islington, Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Westminster, and Kensington and Chelsea councils, the Mayor outlined his support for short-term lets, which offer additional accommodation for visitors to the capital and enable Londoners to meet new people and earn some extra money.

According to reports, over the past year approximately 2,200,000 guests have stayed at 75,700 listings in the capital, generating £1.3bn from guests and hosts.

However, concerns have been raised by Londoners that neighbours’ homes are being let out beyond the legal 90-night limit, with some areas in central London experiencing a particularly high turnover of guests.

The Mayor has previously called on the short-term industry to self-regulate, including voluntarily capping the number of nights a host can let out their home.

Despite “continued discussions” between City Hall and the industry, Airbnb is currently the only platform to have implemented the cap.

Alongside Airbnb and the council co-signatories, the Mayor is urging ministers to meet with them and develop detailed plans about how this registration systemic approach could work.

Signatories to the letter have outlined that the system must be simple to use, low or no cost to the host, and function as one single database accessible online and hosted by one organisation.

The Mayor’s call comes as his Deputy Mayor for Housing and Residential Development, James Murray, addresses the inaugural AGM of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Short-Lets Sector, set up by Karen Buck, Labour MP for Westminster North, to offer a forum to discuss these issues.

Khan said: “Short-term lets are a benefit to visitors to London, and to Londoners themselves who want to earn a little extra money.

“But these benefits must be balanced with the need to protect long-term rented housing, and to make sure neighbours aren’t impacted by a high turnover of visitors.

“It is now time for the government to work with us to develop a registration system of short-term lets, so local councils can make sure we get this balance right.”

Karen Buck, Labour MP for Westminster North, welcomes the Mayor’s initiative, adding that the accommodation ‘sharing economy’ brings many benefits but the law is open to abuse.

She said: “Councils are left unable to enforce laws effectively and struggling to manage the impact of short lets on residential communities. Knowing who is actually letting out their properties helps get the balance right.”

Hadi Moussa, Airbnb Country Manager UK and Northern Europe, added: “Airbnb is built on the principle of making communities stronger, and we are proud to lead our industry on working with policymakers to secure smart rules that work for everyone.

“A clear and simple registration system that applies to all platforms is good news for hosts and will help authorities get the information they need to regulate our industry effectively.

“We want to continue working together with leaders in the UK and across the world to ensure that the sustainable growth of home sharing is good news for everyone.”

Further responding to the Mayor’s announcement, Labour’s London Assembly Housing Spokesperson, Tom Copley AM, said that the current regulatory framework for short-lets is failing to keep up with the “burgeoning” growth of the sector.

He added: “Calling for a registration system is an important step by the Mayor, and follows on from the action being taken by other cities such as Barcelona.

“It also echoes the recommendations made in my London Assembly report on short-term lets for data sharing processes to be improved to help local authorities to more robustly enforce the 90-day rule.

“Now the ball is in the government’s court to put the necessary measures in place to clamp down on those that abuse the system, while ensuring that legitimate home-sharing can continue.

“However, it is ridiculous that powers to regulate the sector haven’t been devolved to City Hall, meaning the Mayor is unable to take action directly.”

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