CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Help tackle the problem of short-term lets

07 February, 2020

Councillor Angela Mason 

• COUNCILLOR Angela Mason is right to highlight short-term lets like Airbnb and the growing private rented sector as two major examples of “deregulation” and “unrestrained market forces” that are making Camden an increasingly unaffordable place for most people to live, especially families, (The ridiculous housing market has spirited our children away, not a pied piper, January 30).

One of our members, who lives on Finchley Road, recently took a short walk outside his flat and within minutes had identified a considerable number of the small key lock boxes, that are one of the tell-tale signs of Airbnb-type activity going on.

Given that the private rented sector is all about making a profit, should we be surprised that some private landlords are turning increasingly to the more lucrative short-term holiday let market? And, if these lets are taking supply out of the market, this will inevitably have an impact on rent levels in the sector.

People say there is nothing wrong with making extra money by renting out their entire flat or a spare room within it; but the activity our member witnessed indicates this is happening on an industrial scale; and it will have a negative impact on residents who live in those heavily-hit areas in terms of noise, people coming and going at all hours, and the incessant noise produced by those ubiquitous wheeled suitcases.

Also, Prague has just joined the growing list of cities across the globe that are seeking to limit the impact of Airbnb’s growth, and its mayor has said that holiday lets are turning it into a “distributed hotel” and failure to regulate it was “eating the city from inside”.

He also said: “In the past, you could limit the amount of tourists in the city simply by approving a certain number of hotels of certain capacity during the process of building permits”, but the rise of online letting platforms meant this was no longer possible to do.

If you suspect that a property near you is being used for short-term let activity, you can report it to the planning department at Camden Council, who will send you a witness log to complete. If it breaches the 90-night legal limit, and evidence is provided to back it up, the council can take enforcement action.

However, one of the main problems with the current system is that it places a lot of the onus on residents to gather the required evidence and the difficulties that involves.

We support Camden and other London local authorities who are calling for the creation of a short-term letting registration scheme. It’s important that any such schemes are properly supported and resourced by government, so function effectively.

Darren Rodwell, London Councils’ executive member for housing and planning, said: “Compulsory registration will help us to support local communities, protect housing stock, and take swift action against anti-social behaviour occurring in short-term lets.”

ROBERT TAYLOR
Camden Federation of Private Tenants

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