Generation Rent - an outspoken organisation sharply critical of lettings agents and many aspects of the private rental sector - is calling for councils across the UK to crackdown on Airbnb and other short let platforms.
It has launched an online petition calling for all such firms and platforms, which it describes as “holiday let companies”, to share data with local authorities who can instead prioritise properties for those in longer-term housing need.
The petition, which you can see on the 38degrees website, claims that the short lets sector in London is to all intents and purposes unregulated because landlords and ‘hosts’ can simply switch from one short-lets platform to another.
This sector is poorly policed both in the capital and beyond, says the group, because councils are cash-strapped.
The petition says:
“The Government to enforce mandatory data sharing by all holiday let companies so that councils throughout the country can crack down on short term lets and prioritise homes not hotels
“Why is this important? It's been revealed that 1 in 50 homes in London are now holiday lets, meaning families and those working in the capital are being forced out of their homes and facing higher rents.
“Right now, if a home in London is rented out on the holiday let market for more than 90 days in the course of a year then the landlord is required to apply for planning permission to let it out to tourists.
“However, because there are loads of holiday let companies out there, landlords can bounce from Airbnb to HomeStay to Hostmaker and to FlipKey without regulation. Cash-strapped local councils don't have the staff or the data to track down landlords that are breaking the law.
“The rise of holiday lets is growing throughout England, and councils outside London have even fewer powers to do anything about it.
“The massive rise in companies like Airbnb and HomeStay means more evictions for long term tenants, less secure private rented housing available for Londoners and rents are being pushed up.”