Westminster Labour has called for a change in the law to introduce strict controls on who is able to let out flats on Airbnb and other short-let platforms after an undercover BBC investigation found that property management companies are encouraging landlords to break strict short-term letting laws in London.
Landlords cannot legally rent out their homes in the capital for more than 90 nights a year under current regulations. However, some firms were secretly recorded by the BBC undercover team explaining methods to get around Airbnb’s system which stops properties exceeding the 90 nights limit, such as using new photos to make listings appear as new.
Westminster North MP Karen Buck, who has campaigned for greater regulation on short-term lets, described the undercover footage as “absolutely shocking”.
“It undermines everything we were told about how short-let accommodation would work and it’s really deeply dispiriting”, she told Inside Out London on BBC One on Monday 25 February.
Westminster Labour Councillors have put forward the following change in the law, based on suggestion from a local resident, to curb unauthorised short-term lets.
Labour suggest that only those living in a property as a primary residence would be allowed to rent their property out for short-term lets. This would make the short terms less of a full-time business and more of an opportunity for bona fide residents to rent out their flat or rooms in their flat for extra income while they are away on holiday or if they have an empty room. The responsibility would fall on the owner to log their dates of rented activity with the council. It could operate in the same way that car owners are responsible for logging congestion charges.