The Mayor of London is calling on government to introduce a new registration system for anyone wishing to rent out a property for less than 90 days in a calendar year - and perhaps surprisingly it’s got the support of Airbnb.
A letter calling for the system has gone from Sadiq Khan to Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government James Brokenshire; it is co-signed by Airbnb and several London borough councils.
It accepts that short-term lets offer additional accommodation for visitors to the capital and enable Londoners to meet new people and earn some extra money, but the letter says these benefits must be balanced with the need to protect long-term rented housing, and to ensure that neighbours of Londoners renting their properties short-term are not negatively affected by a high turnover of visitors.
The letter argues that London is one of the UK’s top destinations for guests travelling with Airbnb.
Over the past year some 2.2m guests have stayed at 75,700 listings in the capital, generating £1.3 billion.
However, it also argues that there are many accommodation platforms in the capital and concerns have been raised by Londoners that neighbours’ homes are being let out beyond the legal 90 night limit, with some areas in central London experiencing a particularly high turnover of guests.
After being elected, Mayor Khan called on the industry to self-regulate, including by voluntarily capping the number of nights per year a host can let out their home in line with the current law.
However, it claims that Airbnb is currently the only platform to have voluntarily implemented the cap limit on its platform for some period of time, including a zero tolerance approach to those that try to get around it. Now Homeaway and TripAdvisor have committed to introducing a cap in the future.
The Mayor believes that a simple, mandatory registration system for anyone wishing to rent out a property for short term let is now necessary in London, to provide local authorities with the data they need to enforce the 90-day rule effectively.
Signatories to the letter believe the system must be simple to use, low or no cost to the host, and function as one single database that is accessible online and hosted by one organisation.
Khan says: “Short-term lets are a benefit to visitors to London, and to Londoners themselves who want to earn a little extra money. But these benefits must be balanced with the need to protect long-term rented housing, and to make sure neighbours aren’t impacted by a high turnover of visitors. It is now time for the Government to work with us to develop a registration system of short-term lets, so local councils can make sure we get this balance right.”
The Mayor’s call comes as an all-party Parliamentary Group on the Short-Lets Sector has been set up by Karen Buck, Labour MP for Westminster North.
“The accommodation ‘sharing economy’ brings many benefits but the law is open to abuse, leaving councils unable to enforce effectively and struggling to manage the impact of short lets on residential communities. Knowing who is actually letting out their properties helps get the balance right” says Buck.
Meanwhile Hadi Moussa of Airbnb adds: "Airbnb is built on the principle of making communities stronger and we are proud to lead our industry on working with policymakers to secure smart rules that work for everyone. A clear and simple registration system that applies to hosts on all platforms is good news for hosts and will help authorities get the information they need to regulate our industry effectively. We want to continue working together with leaders in the UK and across the world to ensure that the sustainable growth of home sharing is good news for everyone."