Housing leader urges council estate leaseholder legal action

UK: Southwark’s housing leader wants the council to take legal action against leaseholders who list their properties on council estates as holiday homes on Airbnb.

Cllr Stephanie Cryan, a cabinet member for housing management, was asked by St George’s ward councillor Maria Linforth-Hall at an overview & scrutiny committee this week about how the council was addressing residents’ complaints over noise and security at some Airbnb rentals.

Cllr Linforth-Hall said: “There is not a single day when I do not receive an email or a telephone call from someone who has a big concern about these issues.”

Cllr Cryan said: “I really fundamentally think that council estates should be homes and not hotels. We’re in the middle of a housing crisis and we need all the homes we can get.”

The cabinet member responded by saying that if a council tenant is illegally subletting on Airbnb, it constitutes a clear breach of tenancy which can lead to eviction.

As far as leaseholders are concerned, the council has considered taking action under anti-social behaviour provisions included in the lease, but this is more difficult to prove.

Cllr Cryan said in some cases the council had been able to persuade leaseholders to withdraw holiday letting listings without taking legal action, but she is now prepared to take cases on the matter to court.

She said: “I think we now maybe need to take the risk of taking someone to court. If we win it, that’s fine, we know that we can. If we lose, we know that we’re on sticky ground.

“I think maybe we need to do a test case, because no other local authority has done that. I personally don’t see why we can’t do that. I would say let us be a test case,” she added.

Last summer, residents of the Dodson and Amigo Estate in the St George’s ward made a deputation to Southwark’s council assembly to highlight the noise and anti-social behaviour coming from tenants in holiday lets on their estate.

The link to the recording of the meeting can be found here (Airbnb discussion from six minutes onwards): www.youtube.com/watch?v=iTOANVwm4Zg