Westminster Council warn of crackdown on ‘wild’ Airbnbs

Westminster Council warn of crackdown on ‘wild’ Airbnbs

Westminster City Council has warned that rowdy short-term lets, including Airbnb properties, risk “hollowing out” west London.

Flats pegged for noisy parties, presumed brothels and houses hosting over their listed capacity have prompted stacks of complaints from local residents.

Of around 10,500 rental properties in the area, a council probe revealed that the borough is now investigating 2,400 properties suspected of flaunting the rules.

The council claims that bookings at local hotels and housing stock have both been impacted by the Airbnb-type lets.

Plans to combat the housing crisis were announced earlier this year, with measures including a mandatory national registration scheme for new short-term let landlords to require the council’s permission to host in their home.

Housing Secretary Michael Gove said: “We know short-term lets can be helpful for the tourist economy, but we are now giving councils the tools to bring them under control so that local people can rent those homes as well.”

Under the 2015 Deregulation Act, London homeowners can let out their properties for a maximum of 90 nights a year without a permit – those properties that breach the rule risk a £20,000 fine.

Adam Hug, a Westminster councillor, said that the volume of anti-social short-term lets threatened “hollowing out our capital by eroding the private rented sector, increasing costs for local authorities and undermining communities across the country”.

According to the new planning permission rules, existing Airbnbs will be exempt from the cap to the displeasure of the Westminster Council.

Mr Hug wrote to the Secretaries of State to “get a grip on this issue” and change the “wild west of short-term lets”.

“It is our view that given the high number of cases under investigation, a high proportion of the 10,500-plus properties we know are being used for short-term lets in Westminster are breaching the 90-day limit and would be lost to use as full-time short-term lets”, added Mr Hug.

“The idea these and many more could be legitimised, without scrutiny, at a time when we have never had so many investigations into non-compliance is entirely unacceptable.”

Leading short-stay rental platform Airbnb say they encourage the Government’s wider implementation of a national host register and a new short-term let planning framework.

An Airbnb spokesperson said: “We have enforced restrictions on short-term lets in London for more than 6 years, partnering with local authorities to investigate and take appropriate action where there are concerns about a listing breaching London regulations.

“The typical listing on Airbnb is rented for just 3 nights a month – far less than the London 90 night limit – and four in ten Hosts say they use the extra income from hosting to help them afford the rising cost of living.

“We have led calls for national short-term let regulations to be introduced since 2019 and we welcome the Government’s announcement that there will be new rules across England.”

Source: independent.co.uk