Half of the short-term lets in a single London borough are estimated as exceeding the legal 90-night allowance last year – representing over half of the homes needed in the borough to help the 6,000 families on its housing waiting list.
Camden Council collected data on entire homes available for short term let throughout 2019 and of the approximately 7,100 homes available, 3,400 (48%) exceeded the 90-night allowance.
But the council concedes it remains difficult to effectively locate properties being used for short term let, up against avoidance tactics such as listing a property across multiple sites and using different locations and different photos make it harder to effectively enforce breaches of the de-regulation act, which allows properties to be rented for up to 90-nights without applying for planning permission.
As such, the council accepts the true extent to which the borough’s short term let market is being exploited remains a hidden issue and often only comes to light when residents are frequently disturbed by tourists.
“This is why we are calling for a mandatory register or licensing system for all short term let properties that will allow us to properly enforce the 90-night limit, help keep our diverse communities together and enable residents to live, work and build their lives in the borough,” said Cllr Danny Beales, Cabinet Member for Investing in Communities.
Acting within the current legislation Camden Council also plans to introduce a short term let pilot scheme later this year.
This pilot scheme will see the council collaborate with residents on finding properties in short term let use and raising awareness of the 90-night limit.
“Homes are being lost at a time of significant need and most short term lets are two to four bed properties, the very same properties that are desperately needed by local families.
“Without these properties available locally, a knock-on effect is felt as prices remaining sky-high and desperate families go on being trapped, unable to move on from often unsuitable and overcrowded conditions,” said Cllr Beales.
“Combining technology and working directly with our residents will allow us to take the necessary steps towards bringing back properties in to permanent residential use.
“However, there is only so much that we are able to do within the current system that is too easily exploited.
“Multiple listings, different addresses and different photos all for the same property make enforcement near impossible while our housing supply is being quietly decimated.
Often unscrupulous businesses, breaking the law are making serious money, while local residents see ever higher rents and ongoing disturbance,” he said.
Camden’s story comes as new stats show Airbnb accommodation now accounts for one in every four property listings in some parts of the country.
This follows a study published by ARLA Propertymark which found that nearly half a million properties could be left unavailable for longer-term rent as more landlords exit the market in favour of short-term lettings.
According to the Residential Landlords Association (RLA), which has been campaigning on the issue since 2016, one of the main reasons for this is the change in the taxation of landlords which is driving many landlords out of the long-term sector.
RLA says the full impact of the restriction of mortgage interest relief to the basic rate of income tax applies from April, made many landlords significantly worse off or even unable to make a profit on their lettings.
This change does not apply to landlords with short-term lets so encouraging long-term landlords to move into that market.
There is mounting evidence that this, along with the 3% per cent stamp duty levy on the purchase of extra housing and other measures affecting landlords’ confidence, is causing a drop in the supply of long term rented homes when demand continues to increase.
“Government policy is actively encouraging the growth of holiday homes at the expense of long-term homes to rent which many families need.
“This is completely counterproductive, making renting more expensive and undermining efforts to help tenants save for a house of their own,” said RLA Policy Director David Smith.
“The Chancellor must use his Budget to give tenants a better deal by supporting good landlords to provide the homes to rent that they want to live in,” he said.