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London Short-term Lets ‘Out of Control’ with over 73,000 Listings on Airbnb-Style Platforms

Squeeze: Digital lettings platforms like Airbnb shrinking rental market in London

Short-term lettings advertised on Airbnb-style platforms accounted for one in every 50 homes in the capital according to latest research by London Councils, raising fresh concerns about the impact on London’s housing stock and communities.

Short-term lettings advertised on Airbnb-style platforms accounted for one in every 50 homes in the capital according to latest research by London Councils, raising fresh concerns about the impact on London’s housing stock and communities.

London Councils, a cross-party group representing all 32 boroughs and the City of London Corporation, found 73,549 listings for London homes on online letting platforms such as Airbnb in December 2019. This is the first time the total number of London listings across the leading platforms has been compiled.

Calling for improved regulation of the booming short-term lets market, London Councils warns that the growth in short-term lets deprives the capital of much-needed permanent accommodation.

The capital currently faces the most severe homelessness crisis in the country. Around 56,000 London households live in temporary accommodation – accounting for nearly 70% of the national total. A recent report from Shelter showed that one in every 52 Londoners can now be considered homeless.

Boroughs are concerned that the proliferation of short-term lets on digital platforms means a squeeze on housing supply for permanent residents while driving up prices in the private rental sector – worsening the affordability of housing in the capital.   

Short-term lets are also increasingly associated with spikes in crime and anti-social behaviour. Boroughs report growing numbers of complaints from local residents about short-term lets used as ‘party houses’ and bases for prostitution and drug dealing.

Boroughs believe London risks lagging behind other global cities in its response. Cities such as Paris and Barcelona have implemented mandatory registration schemes for short-term lets, imposing heavy fines on rule breaches, and invest significant resources into monitoring the market and enforcing standards.

London Councils also points to the recent announcement by the Scottish government that councils north of the border will be able to introduce licensing schemes for short-term lets from 2021.

The umbrella body is calling for similar measures, including mandatory registration of short-term lets and stronger powers for local authorities to protect housing stock and clamp down on irresponsible property owners flouting the 90-day rule allowed for short-term lets in one year. Legislative action is required at a government level for London to be given such powers.   

Cllr Darren Rodwell, London Councils’ Executive Member for Housing & Planning, said: “At a time when almost one in 50 Londoners is homeless, it’s ridiculous that potentially one in 50 London homes is rented out as a short-term let.

“Although short-term lets listed on digital platforms offer benefits to some Londoners, the market is growing out of control. Boroughs are hearing more and more complaints about short-term lets linked to antisocial behaviour and even criminality.

“The priority has to be protecting Londoners’ interests. That’s why we’re calling on the government to introduce much stronger regulation of this sector. Changes to government legislation are essential for giving local authorities the powers we need to keep check on short-term lets in our communities and defend our residents.

“The Scottish government’s recent announcement shows London risks being left behind on this issue – especially when you look at the regulatory powers and resources other cities around the world have already got. We look forward to working with ministers so we can ensure London is better placed to tackle this challenge.”

London Councils, a cross-party group representing all 32 boroughs and the City of London Corporation, found 73,549 listings for London homes on online letting platforms such as Airbnb in December 2019. This is the first time the total number of London listings across the leading platforms has been compiled.

Calling for improved regulation of the booming short-term lets market, London Councils warns that the growth in short-term lets deprives the capital of much-needed permanent accommodation.

London currently faces the most severe homelessness crisis in the country. Around 56,000 London households live in temporary accommodation – accounting for nearly 70% of the national total. A recent report from Shelter showed that one in every 52 Londoners can now be considered homeless.

Boroughs are concerned that the proliferation of short-term lets means less housing supply for permanent residents while driving up prices in the private rental sector – worsening the affordability of housing in the capital.   

Short-term lets are also increasingly associated with spikes in crime and anti-social behaviour. Boroughs report growing numbers of complaints from local residents about short-term lets used as ‘party houses’ and bases for prostitution and drug dealing.

Boroughs believe London risks lagging behind other global cities in its response. Cities such as Paris and Barcelona have implemented mandatory registration schemes for short-term lets, impose heavy fines on rule breaches, and invest significant resources into monitoring the market and enforcing standards.

London Councils also points to the recent announcement by the Scottish government that councils north of the border will be able to introduce licensing schemes for short-term lets from 2021.

The umbrella body is calling for similar measures, including mandatory registration of short-term lets and stronger powers for local authorities to protect housing stock and clamp down on irresponsible property owners. Legislative action is required at a government level for London to be given such powers.   

Cllr Darren Rodwell, London Councils’ Executive Member for Housing & Planning, said: “At a time when almost one in 50 Londoners is homeless, it’s ridiculous that potentially one in 50 London homes is rented out as a short-term let.

“Although short-term lets listed on digital platforms offer benefits to some Londoners, the market is growing out of control. Boroughs are hearing more and more complaints about short-term lets linked to antisocial behaviour and even criminality.

“The priority has to be protecting Londoners’ interests. That’s why we’re calling on the government to introduce much stronger regulation of this sector. Changes to government legislation are essential for giving local authorities the powers we need to keep check on short-term lets in our communities and defend our residents.

“The Scottish government’s recent announcement shows London risks being left behind on this issue – especially when you look at the regulatory powers and resources other cities around the world have already got. We look forward to working with ministers so we can ensure London is better placed to tackle this challenge.”

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