Friday 3 March 2017
– Self-regulation alternative way forward to government intervention
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has called on online short-term letting agents to follow Airbnb’s lead by blocking hosts from renting out homes in the capital for more than 90 days.
Airbnb – which has about 50,000 listings in the capital – announced in December last year that it would place a block on its website so its hosts in London could not make more than 90 nights of bookings a year for their entire home without planning permission.
It was a decision welcomed by the Mayor, who last year wrote to the Home Affairs Select Committee raising concerns that letting properties in the capital on a short-term basis all year round could lead to a loss of London’s much needed housing stock. Following discussions with local councils across the capital, he was keen to find a better way for them to balance the right of Londoners benefiting from renting out their homes for short periods with the protection of local residents and the retention of housing for long-term use.
Sadiq welcomed Airbnb’s very positive and forward-thinking introduction of the 90-day lettings block – and yesterday wrote to six other online short-term letting agents operating in London, urging them to do the same. They include Veeve, One Fine Stay, Wimdu, Booking.com, HomeAway and Airsorted.
The Mayor supports Londoners being able to benefit from renting out their homes for short periods. The popularity of short term lets in London with visitors from around the world is further evidence that London is Open.
He also believes the industry will benefit by ensuring its customers comply with the law and that, by self-regulating, it can offer an alternative to calls for government intervention. He is also urging all operators of short-term letting platforms to work with boroughs across the capital to help them in undertaking enforcement action where necessary.
In his letter, Sadiq Khan, said: “While Airbnb accounts for a substantial share of the short-term lettings market in London, there are many other operators, such as yours, who occupy the same space. I am keen to see a cross-industry response to this issue, to help local authorities enforce the law.
“I therefore strongly encourage your company to follow Airbnb’s lead, by ensuring that customers of yours who want to let properties in London on a short-term basis for more than the 90-day annual cumulative limit are restricted from doing so through your website, unless they can prove that they have the relevant planning permission.”
London Assembly member Tom Copley, who last week chaired a roundtable on the issue of short-term letting in London involving Airbnb, London Councils and the Deputy Mayor for Housing and Residential Development, said: “Last week’s meeting at City Hall was a positive discussion about the need to ensure hosts cannot break the law by letting out properties short-term for more than 90 days per year.
“Local authorities just don’t have the resources they need to enforce the 90 day limit and so it falls to providers to step in. It’s hugely welcome that Airbnb have stuck their heads above the parapet. We need others in the industry to now follow suit.
“I’m delighted that the Mayor has added his voice to calls for other platforms to follow Airbnb’s example and proactively enforce the 90-day limit.”
Sir Steve Bullock, executive member for housing at London Councils, said: “London Councils welcomed the steps taken by Airbnb to ensure its activities do not have a negative impact on the capital’s already extremely challenging housing situation.
“Ensuring short-term rentals advertised with all providers are being used in line with planning laws is a vital step in tackling a housing crisis which impacts on all Londoners – and we welcome this further intervention by the Mayor to ask other companies to follow Airbnb’s example.”
Charlotte Snelling, IPPR researcher on housing, said: “IPPR research shows that home sharing in London has the potential to cause problems in future – particularly in high pressure areas.
“IPPR welcomes the Mayor’s intervention today to encourage greater self-regulation in the sector.
“We have argued for an industry-wide commitment to introduce blocks on hosts to prevent them from exceeding the 90-day limit, and to work together to ensure this is observed across all platforms, to close loopholes and promote a responsible form of letting which helps the capital to succeed and thrive.”