These short term lets are causing untold misery for Westminster residents. In Bayswater the character of our lovely streets and squares is changing. One resident wrote to me:
“I bought the flat in Westbourne Gardens in 2009. At the time it was an idyllic residential enclave with beautiful peaceful gardens and stunning 19th Century architecture. There was a sense of community – I thought it the perfect relocation to reduce my work commute whilst also feeling part of an active neighbourhood and friendly residents. Time’s moved on. And so will I. How sad and angry I am to feel forced out of what was once my perfect home.”
She goes on to catalogue some of the practical and emotional issues caused by living beneath a short term rental flat:
- Blocked drains due to inconsiderate disposal of cooking and sanitary items into the sewage system.
- Flooding of sewage into the basement walkway area due to the blocked drains.
- Refuse being dumped in the communal hallway, blocking entry doors and not separated into the recycling boxes.
- The bathroom being flooded due to renters not using the shower curtain and also the toilet cistern cut off valve not operating properly. Damage to oak shelving, ceiling, floor tiles and walls
- Cigarette butts thrown out of the window (despite the flat being no smoking) and piling up in the basement walkway.
- Her bedroom is below the studio flat which is advertised as sleeping 4. The whole of the lounge/sleeping area is situated above her bedroom. The flooring is low quality, non-insulated laminate. Due to the lack of soundproofing, she and her partner can hear virtually every sound coming from the upstairs flat.
- With every new arrival, holiday renters bring wheeled luggage into the small living space. They unpack and open and slam every storage receptacle available in the lounge. They move about and open all doors and cupboards to check what’s inside. They move the TV stand and furniture to suit their needs.
- They remain in outdoor shoes, walking backwards and forwards across the small living area.
- They turn on the TV, fiddle with the channels and music.
- They can hear every sound, from the vibrating of the phone on the laminate floor to the renters having sex in the lounge area. In desperation they offered to pay for carpet and underlay and its installation but the landlord refused.
- There have also been 2 burglaries in the building. The front door lock requires a certain push to lock and so renters tend to unintentionally leave it open.
She says,”I contacted the Short Term Lets Team at Westminster to pursue this case back in 2017. Sadly I was advised that even if I started to count the days from late in 2017 there would be no roll-over into 2018 of the count towards 90 nights. What a crazy situation to be in! “ So she started logging the comings and goings of the renters on January 1stand by June the landlord had exceeded their 90 permitted nights. Despite all this and a warning notice being issued, none of this has been taken to court. She says that her needs have not been prioritised and the lengthy process of issuing an enforcement notice is not favourable to her.
This resident was working from home and is a fairly confident woman so was able to keep track of the renters by knocking on their door and introducing herself. Most people would not be able to do this. Another resident living in a City West Homes property in Porchester Square is in a similar situation, living underneath a short lets flat. It’s a one bedroom flat but I have seen for myself, up to 10 people with their luggage waiting to be let in. This resident is 84 years old and he told me of an occasion when he went upstairs to complain about the noise and the door was opened by a man holding a knife. Now he could have been using it to peel potatoes but the resident certainly felt threatened by this.