London mayor could revise short-term lettings law

New legislation on short-term rentals could be introduced by the Mayor of London to close a legal loophole exploited by some professional landlords.

In a response to Labour MP Iain Wright, Sadiq Khan stated there must be a balance between Londoners’ right to rent out their homes and how this affects the wider community and the permanent housing supply.

The mayor is also worried that long-term rental stock can be affected as some landlords let entire homes on lucrative rates for more than the legally permitted period of 90 nights per year by listing properties on websites like Airbnb.

Concerns

Khan wrote:

“I support the right of Londoners to be able to benefit from renting out their homes for short periods, to meet new people, earn a little extra money, and add to the residential offer for visitors.”

“However, this freedom must be balanced against the need to ensure that Londoners are not adversely affected by high levels of churn of visitors in specific areas or buildings.

“There is also a concern that permanent housing supply is being ‘lost’ through short term bookings, with entire homes rented out through short term letting websites for cumulative periods that may be longer than the 90 nights per year permitted in London by the new law.”

Meeting

Khan has invited representatives from Airbnb and London boroughs to discuss how short term lettings legislation is affecting London’s neighbourhoods and housing supply before taking further steps towards regulation.

The mayor’s letter is available in full here (PDF).

Current law

Prior to 26 May 2015 Londoners wishing to rent out their homes for short periods had to obtain a planning permission for change of use. The Government decided these rules were restrictive and amended the law so that the use of residential property as temporary accommodation would not require a planning permission if:

  • the aggregate number of nights during a calendar year for which the property is used as temporary sleeping accommodation is not greater than 90, and;
  • the person who provides the accommodation is liable for council tax as opposed to business rates (to ensure the revision only affects residential property and not commercial).

According to The Times, almost half the properties on Airbnb in Britain’s biggest cities are now offered by landlords. In London alone there are more than 20,000 entire properties listed on Airbnb, a 24 per cent increase in four months.