Camden supports self-funding registration system for short term lets

Councillor Georgia Gould, leader of Camden Council, along with several other London Council’s representing a cross party view have co-signed a letter from the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan to James Brokenshire MP, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government.

The letter requests the creation of a mandatory registration system for those who wish to do short term lets for less than 90 days each calendar year, a system that Camden council have been campaigning for some time.

It is estimated that 7,000 properties in Camden are currently used for Short Term Letting (STL), some of these are lawful and being used for less than 90 days a year, but many are unlawful. This results in the loss of permanent housing at a time of significant need in our Borough.

Since the Deregulation Act (2015) came into force the council has seen an increase in the number of enforcement complaints about this issue, rising from 35 in 2016 to 123 in 2018, with the reality that the number of cases reported is probably a fraction of the unlawful STLs in the Borough. The council’s planning enforcement team seek to take robust action but the legislation can make that hard. A mandatory register would significantly improve the ability to address this issue for the benefit of our residents.

We are proud that London is open and truly a global city. Short-term lets in London support this by offering more accommodation for visitors from the UK and around the world. They also enable Londoners to meet new people and earn a little extra money.

However, these benefits must be balanced with the need to protect long-term rented housing, and to ensure that neighbours of Londoners renting their properties short-term are not negatively impacted by a high turnover of visitors.

In principle, the current legislation should achieve this balance by requiring planning permission to let out a home short-term for more than 90 days cumulatively in a calendar year. London local authorities, particularly those with high numbers of short term lets within their boundaries, have invested significant resource into enforcing the current legislation and great effort into lobbying for changes to legislation that would enable them to enforce the 90 night limit. However, ultimately, they have found the law very difficult to enforce, particularly given the lack of accessible data on lettings.

Airbnb has shown its willingness to work towards self-regulatory measures by voluntarily implementing a limit in 2017 on properties used for short term lets over 90 nights in a calendar year. However, despite repeated requests from City Hall, other platforms have so far been unwilling to commit to this measure, and discussions regarding the introduction of a cross-platform information sharing protocol have been unsuccessful.

Given this, we now believe the time is right for a system of sensible, light-touch registration of short-term lettings in London. This should take the form of a simple, mandatory registration system for anyone wishing to let out a property for a period of less than 90 days in a calendar year in London. This would allow local authorities to effectively enforce the current 90-day rule.

As representatives of the industry, local and regional government, we believe that any system should:

  • be simple to use;
  • be low or no cost to the host;
  • include penalties for non-compliance;
  • function as a single database that is accessible online and hosted by one organisation; and
  • ensure that data provided by hosts enables local authorities to enforce the 90-day rule.

We believe there is support for a light touch registration system from across the sector. We would welcome the chance for our teams and other organisations to meet with your officials, to discuss how we can help your Ministry to develop detailed plans about how such an approach could work in practice.

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London

Cllr Darren Rodwell, Executive Member for Housing and Planning, London Councils

Hadi Moussa, General Manager for Northern Europe at Airbnb 

Cllr Nickie Aiken, Leader of the Council, Westminster City Council

Cllr Elizabeth Campbell, Leader of the Council, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea

John Biggs, Executive Mayor of Tower Hamlets

Philip Glanville, Mayor of Hackney

Cllr Georgia Gould, Leader of the Council, London Borough of Camden

Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of the Council, London Borough of Islington