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Surge in Airbnb-style short lets 'is down to tax relief change'

More landlords are quitting conventional letting and resorting to holiday lets or, increasingly, Airbnb-style short lets. 

The move is particularly acute in London where a new analysis by the Residential Landlords Association reveals a 75 per cent increase in the number of multi-listings on Airbnb between February 2016 and March 2017. 

Multi-listings are classed as individuals advertising more than one property on Airbnb.

Further evidence of the change in letting comes from the analysis showing that the number of whole properties and rooms advertised on Airbnb in London available for more than 90 nights a year has increased by 23 per cent between February 2016 and March 2017. 

This is despite planning permission being required in such circumstances and Airbnb launching a crackdown to better enforce this rule at the start of the year. 

A UK-wide survey by the RLA of almost 1,500 landlords has found that seven per cent reported that they had now started to offer properties as holiday/short term lets through Airbnb or a similar platform. 

These are properties that they would have previously let longer term in the private rented sector. If this was reflected across the whole sector, this would mean a minimum of 134,400 private rented homes moving from the traditional private rental market to holiday or short let accommodation. 

Of those who have moved over to short-term letting, 36 per cent reported this was because of the changes to mortgage interest relief. These include landlords being taxed on their income instead of their profit and tax relief only being available at the basic rate.  

One landlord who has made the move to holiday lets told the association: “I didn't want to do this, but the tax changes have forced me down this route. Selling is not an option due to Capital Gains Tax, and this iniquitous tax which is effectively retrospective is unjust in that my buy to lets are a business, just like any other. There will be less properties available to rent as a result of this tax.”

The RLA now wants the government to scrap the mortgage interest relief changes.

  

“It is crazy that recent tax changes encourage landlords to move to the short term holiday let market. What we need is a tax system that encourages investment in homes to rent for the long term by good landlords” says RLA policy director, David Smith.

“By skewing the market, government policy will serve only to hit the hardest those young people and families who most need a growing private rented sector to meet their needs.”

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