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Council crackdown on short-term lets

Wednesday 31 January 2018

A London council is planning to crack down on AirBnB type lets after receiving a string of complaints where homeowners have rented out their properties for more than the maximum 90 days.

Kensington and Chelsea council are considering piloting a licensing scheme after receiving 91 complaints in the last two years, which would require homeowners to apply for a permit – at an unspecified cost – allowing them to rent their house or flat.

Airbnb rentals grew by 50 per cent in London between 2016 and 2017, prompting a call for more effective regulation of short-term lettings in the capital.

The council says that under the current rules it has only been able to issue 11 people with enforcement notices ordering them to desist, and the new system would require owners to take responsibility for the behaviour of their paying guests.

There have been reports of high-end London homes being used for “pay parties”, prostitution, drug storage and dealing, and as well as noise nuisance and damage to homes, short lets in blocks of flats could cause legal problems for other residents by potentially invalidating block insurance and causing damage to communal areas.

Currently, anyone wanting to use their property for short lets for more than 90 days must apply for planning permission from their local council and breaching this can result in fines of up to £20,000. In reality however, very few applications for planning consent are actually made, and breaches can often be hard to detect.

Malcolm Spalding, chairman of the working group set up to investigate the issue, said:

“Many Londoners have found, in common with residents of other global cities, that the increase in short-term holiday lettings has coincided with an increase in antisocial behaviour, the deterioration of neighbourhood environments, and in addition to this, local businesses have raised concerns about the impacts.

“Concerns have also been expressed in many cities with a large number of short-term lettings about consequent loss of permanent residential accommodation.”