One in four short-term lets ‘is illegal’


More problems with Airbnb style letting in Big Towns and Cities as it distorts the rental market and homes are turned into hotels.

Councils have called for a national registration scheme for Airbnb-style holiday lets after it emerged that one in four short-term landlords in London is breaking the law.

Melissa York 

Homeowners in the capital are allowed to rent out their properties for short-term lets without planning permission for up to 90 nights a year, but the Greater London Authority (GLA) said that 23 per cent of those offering short-term lets ignored the cap.

Data from Camden council in north London suggested that 48 per cent of landlords are illegally letting their properties out as holiday homes. Councillors said that the problem was so pronounced that schools could not fill their classrooms and families were moving away from the area because of a lack of housing.

“Homes are being turned into hotels and it undermines our efforts to keep families in Camden,” Angela Mason, a council cabinet member for children and families, said.

The GLA report, which analysed data from the activism website Inside Airbnb, said the short-stay lettings site was responsible for 65 per cent of all such listings in the capital. The number of Airbnb listings has quadrupled in the last four years, from 18,400 to 80,800, according to the statistics.

The figures, presented to the all-party parliamentary group on short lets, also showed that landlords could make £109 a night by offering short-term lets, against an average market rent equating to £58 a night.

The GLA was joined by London Councils, which represents all 32 boroughs and the City of London, in calling for action at the national level to make it compulsory for all landlords to register on a single online database.

The Scottish parliament voted last month in favour of a new licensing scheme for short lets that will come into force in spring next year. All holiday homes will have to comply with safety standards and councils will have the power to require planning permission for listings that involve letting out entire properties.

Airbnb said the report showed that the majority of Londoners obeyed the law and that almost half of listings were shared for less than 30 nights.

Patrick Robinson, director of public policy at Airbnb, said: “We are now working with cities across the UK, including London, on proposals for a host registration system that we will put to the government later this year.”