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London council steps up action to curb Airbnb-style short lets

Southwark council in south London is sending leaflets to all its leaseholders to warn them that letting out homes on any short term holiday let websites would be a breach of the conditions of their lease and could face legal action.

The leaflets emphasise that the lease places conditions on the use and occupation of their property and short term letting constitutes a breach of the lease covenants “not to use or suffer the flat to be used for any purpose other than as a private dwellinghouse” and “not to do or permit or suffer to be done any act or thing which may be or become a nuisance or annoyance to the council or to the lessees owners or occupiers of adjoining or neighbouring property.”

Council tenants have been sent similar leaflets with their rent statements as they would also be breaching their tenancies, but the council has clarified that this does not include lodgers as long as they have written permission.

“We are aware that a growing number of leaseholders are letting their properties, on a short term basis, through platforms including, but not exclusive to, Airbnb, Housetrip and Gumtree” says a council spokeswoman.

“As far as we are concerned our homes are homes, not hotels. We want people in our council homes and on our council estates who are a part of the community, not visitors passing through. In addition, noise nuisance, over-occupation and damage to communal areas can all result from the use of properties as short term lets and this can be damaging to local communities.”

Southwark’s action is the latest in a series of moves by local authorities - mostly but not exclusively in London - to limit the effects of large-scale use of Airbnb and similar sites.

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