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London’s property market is being transformed by short-term rental sites like Airbnb.

August 2, 2016

Short-term rental sites like Airbnb are transforming London’s property market, causing alarm to landlords and neighbours.

Airbnb is an online marketplace that enables people to list, find, then rent vacation homes for a processing fee.

Similar to Uber, Airbnb’s anyone-can-have-a-go, approach has transformed the way in which the rental market is working in the capital. Short-term let sites like Airbnb have had a growing influence in London the last few years. The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) issued a report stating that, between February and June 2016, London listings have increased by 27% to 42,646.

This rapid rise has caused confusion between Airbnb and local authorities over the rules of short-term letting. In September the Upper Tribunal’s Land Chamber ruled that homeowners whose leases state that their properties can be used as “private residence only” cannot rent out their homes short-term if they don’t live there with “a degree of permanence going beyond being there for a weekend or a few nights in the week”. However, the ruling does not affect all short-term lets, it was only based on a specific case in North London where the judge decided that the property owner breached her lease because she wasn’t living there permanently.

Londoners are permitted to rent their properties out for short-term periods of up to 90 cumulative days without needing any planning permission. This is relatively new piece of legislation, and failure to acquire the proper permissions could lead to fines of up to £20,000.

Airbnb insists that they do all they can to inform hosts about local regulations. Airbnb stated: “We remind hosts to check and follow local rules before they list their space, throughout the year and at host meet-ups. When the rules in London changed [regarding the 90-day rule] we held host meet-ups to discuss the rules with our community. We’ve established a London Borough Working Group to work with London boroughs to promote the rules, responsible home-sharing and support regular people who share their homes to pay the bills.”

One landlady who refused to use the traditional buy-to-let approach is Emily van Eyssem, she turned to Airbnb as an alternative and hasn’t looked back since. She said: “It’s incredibly lucrative. My income has increased dramatically — for example, on a flat I’d have been getting £1,300 per month on before costs, I’d now be making £3,000 a month.”


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