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Investors urged to let out empty AirBNB flats

Tourist income drops for short-term lets market

12 June, 2020 — By Richard Osley

Danny Beales is Camden Council’s regeneration chief

THE Town Hall is set to ask investors who changed the nature of Camden’s property market with “professional” use of booking sites like Airbnb to be restored to long-term lets.

Council chiefs want to find a “silver lining” in the loss of tourism due to the coronavirus crisis by encouraging landlords to put their flats and houses back on the rental market. It follows years of warnings about how property owners had worked out they could make more from their accommodation from short-term let to tourists instead of more settled tenants.

The holiday lets gold rush for investors, however, has been disrupted by the lockdown and cancelled bookings.

The issue was raised at the latest meeting of Camden’s scrutiny committee into the response to Covid-19.

Labour backbench councillor Anna Wright said: “If the tourist industry in London is going to be affected, which it almost certainly will, that should in theory mean a lot of Airbnb capacity release. This will, on the one hand, have an economic impact on those who’ve made some income from renting out rooms or properties, but may also release some of this volume back for longer-term, more secure tenancies which would be they welcome.”

She described this as a “little bit of a silver lining”.

The cross-party committee of councillors is meeting via videocall technology while the Town Hall remains closed for meetings.

Regeneration chief Labour councillor Danny Beales told the meeting that the crisis could be a “prompt” for a change.

“I think the things that Airbnb and other short-term let companies have said shows that that demand has exponentially gone down as tourism has sort of ground to a halt,” he said.

“What we already know is that about half the market in Camden is your regular resident who rents out a spare room or rents out their property while they’re away. But that does leave 50 per cent of the market that is professionally short- term let and I think there’s an opportunity there to potentially persuade some of those investors and agents to think about re-entering the general private-rented sector, which obviously we would encourage to open up those homes to families.”

He said the council had identified properties being used for Airbnb-style lets and Camden could “target them with communications”.

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