CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Abuse by holiday let landlords

Council wants mandatory register of property owners taking Airbnb bookings

27 February, 2020 — By Richard Osley

CNJ front page in 2015

THOUSANDS of homeowners and landlords cashing in on the boom in Airbnb-style holiday lets are ignoring a 90-day annual limit for using their property in this way.

A series of avoidance tactics, including advertising flats and houses on different websites, has left Town Hall officials fighting a losing battle.

Camden said it has ­collected new research which shows almost half of people allowing their property to be booked for short stays were breaking the limit.

While tourists have enjoyed saving money on hotel breaks in expensive central London, property owners in Camden have worked out that lets like this are more profitable than using the private rental market.

This, however, puts settled communities at risk as neighbours find themselves living next door to mini-hotels used by tourists with no long-term interest in the area. Carefree party bookings in some homes have led to complaints about noise and disturbance.

Camden’s new figures revealed that 3,400 properties broke the 90 day rule during 2019, and the system was now becoming hard to regulate. It is calling for a more rigid register of landlords so that the number of bookings can be monitored.

Regeneration chief Councillor Danny Beales said: “Homes are being lost at a time of significant need and most short-term lets are two to four bed properties, the very same properties that are desperately needed by local families.

“Without these properties available locally, a knock-on effect is felt as prices remain sky-high and desperate families go on being trapped, unable to move on from often unsuitable and overcrowded conditions.

He added: “There is only so much that we are able to do within the current system that is too easily exploited.

“Multiple listings, different addresses and different photos all for the same property make enforcement near impossible while our housing supply is being quietly decimated.

“Often unscrupulous businesses, breaking the law are making serious money, while local residents see ever-higher rents and ongoing disturbance.”

Camden had initially been slow to chart the growth of Airbnb when the bookings first became popular. The borough is a hotspot due to its tourist-friendly location.

It was not until a New Journal investigation in 2015 revealed that some council homes were being used as places to stay for tourists that councillors set up an investigatory panel.

Since then, the council has regularly raised concerns Airbnb is perhaps the best known of all of the holiday let sites with a global reach.

It said: “We automatically limit entire home listings in Greater ­London to 90 nights a year, unless you have planning permission to host more frequently.”

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