Airbnb and other short term lettings sites joined local authorities and community groups at City Hall to focus on the need to stop commercial landlords letting their properties beyond the 90 day limit.
The meeting, hosted by Labour’s London Assembly housing spokesperson, Tom Copley AM, discussed growing concerns about the contribution of home-sharing platforms on London’s housing crisis.
Airbnb announced last December they would enforce the restriction, and Mr Copley used yesterday’s meeting to urge other providers to follow suit. Mr Copley said the meeting showed there is “clear consensus over the need to collaborate to stop short term lettings sites being abused by professional landlords”.
In December 2016, Airbnb announced they would enforce the 90 day limit. Yesterday’s meeting focused on wider prevention and enforcement.
Chatham House rules were in place, but panellists and attendees from the industry, local government and the community spoke about the need for other providers to enforce the 90 day limit and work collaboratively to prevent hosts from ‘jumping’ from platform to platform.
Mr Copley said yesterday’s meeting was “a positive discussion about the need to ensure hosts cannot break the law” but warned that effective enforcement hinges upon “effective legislation from government”.
Guidance issued by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) in 2015 removed the need for planning permission to rent out a room or property as temporary accommodation for fewer than 90 days a year.
Whilst the 90 day limit remains in place, local authorities say it is difficult to enforce. There are concerns properties previously used for private rent are being used for short term lettings by landlords wishing to increase their income.
In Camden, home to approximately 8% of all London Airbnb properties, the average nightly cost for a holiday let for an entire property is estimated to be 140% higher than the average rent for the borough. Research also shows 45% of Camden lettings (and 41% Londonwide) were from a host with more than one property, feeding concerns some landlords are exploiting the rent differential.
Copley AM, said: “We know that some landlords are essentially transforming long-term homes into hotels without planning permission. This meeting showed that there is clear consensus over the need to collaborate to stop short term lettings sites being abused by professional landlords.
“Local authorities just don’t have the resources they need to enforce the 90 day limit and so it falls to providers to step in. It’s hugely welcome that Airbnb have stuck their heads above the parapet. We need others in the industry to now follow suit and to work together on enforcing the 90 day limit, including sharing data with boroughs where necessary.
“There is no disputing the many economic benefits to Londoners of tourism that Airbnb and their counterparts create. We must ensure the costs don’t outweigh the benefits by preventing commercial landlords from taking advantage of the system and putting even more pressure on our housing supply.
“It’s also crucial that hotels and the hospitality sector don’t face unfair competition from professional landlords setting up as hotels by the back door, avoiding taxes and regulations.
“Yesterday’s meeting was a positive discussion about the need to ensure hosts cannot break the law by letting out properties short-term for more than 90 days per year.
“However, effective enforcement hinges upon effective legislation from government and we need them round the table for any future discussion. I look forward to continuing this work with platforms, boroughs, community groups, the GLA and central government to ensure short term lettings are effectively regulated.”