London’s outdated rental laws are due for an overhaul that could simplify lettings. It could also ease the situation that means renters on websites such as AirBnb, the peer to peer accommodation listing site, are often breaking the rules when they offer London accommodation for short term rent.
A consultation has opened into the proposal to align London’s currently unique rules, with those that apply in the rest of the UK. Currently, Londoners have to obtain official permission to rent out a property for a period of less than three months, as under the 1973 Greater London Powers Act, such a rental is considered a change of use.
“London is a holiday hotspot, with thousands of working people visiting every year looking for somewhere comfortable and convenient to stay,” housing minister Kris Hopkins told the London Standard. “Yet the capital’s homeowners get tangled in red tape each time they look to offer their homes. This, and the wide range of property websites offering opportunities to advertise homes for rent, makes this law increasingly outdated and unworkable.”
“I want to hear whether we update this rule, or whether London needs its own rules at all, to ensure as flexible a market as possible for tenants and tourists alike.”
The consultation will bring new and old into direct conflict. Website AirBnB recently put out a report to argue for its service, letting people rent out a room or flat on a flexible direct basis; that argued the website delivers £500m a year of benefit to the London economy, helping hard-pressed homeowners pay the bills while offering accommodation to people who otherwise couldn’t afford to visit.
Naturally, the hotel companies are up in arms, disputing the loss of business argument, and pointing out that private lets don’t adhere to tight health and safety regulations.
Local authorities in London are also not keen. During the run up to the 2012 Olympics, several started enforcement of the rules to prevent enterprising Londoners renting out their flats. One of their arguments is this: if you live in a quiet apartment block, and your neighbour starts renting out a flat via AirBnb or similar, and a succession of weekend stag or hen parties arrive to stay in your building, interrupting your quiet nights and leaving a mess, you’d probably be very unhappy.
You will find more about the rules and legalities of renting out a London home for the short term, here.
And there’s more on the government consultation here.