UK: Sadiq Khan, the current Mayor of London, has added calls for a short-term rental registration scheme in the capital in a bid to alleviate the ongoing housing crisis.
Khan made the announcement as it was revealed that there were more than 81,000 Airbnb listings in London this month, including 50,000+ entire home listings. He said that the proliferation of short-term rentals were squeezing housing supply and driving up rents in the city.
The current law in the capital stipulates that Londoners are restricted to renting out their property on a short-term basis for a maximum of 90 nights in a calendar year, unless planning permission is obtained.
Should a licensing scheme be implemented in London, it would allow local authorities to limit the number of short-term rental licences that can be issued in a given area, as well as generating additional funds for councils through enforcement when unregistered landlords rent out their properties beyond the 90-day limit.
Khan said: “Short-term lets play an important role in London’s tourism industry, but that mustn’t come at the expense of Londoners, who need a place to live. We need transparency about how many properties are being rented out for longer than the rules permit, and accountability to local authorities and residents.”
Khan is also urging ministers to endorse his calls for new legislation that would require short-term rental platforms to share data at local and national government levels so that authorities can glean more about how the sector is having an impact on housing supply and local residents.
In June, it was reported that UK-based Airbnb hosts suspected of not declaring their rental earnings were facing a potential 20-year tax investigation from His Majesty’s Revenue & Customs [ HMRC ] that covers six years of income information, as part of a wider crackdown on the sector’s activities by the UK tax authority.
Airbnb was forced to share the income details of all UK hosts on its platform dating back to the 2017-2018 financial year with HMRC, which set out to identify owners who rent out their properties as short-term lets without declaring how much they are earning each year.
UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls welcomed potential news of increased regulation of the short-term rental sector in London, saying: “The mayor is absolutely right to raise the issue of short-term lets in the capital. Whether it’s a lack of visibility preventing checks of basic standards of safety and accessibility or the impact it has on housing stocks, it’s clear that action is needed.
“We’ve backed the government’s proposals for a registration scheme to tackle the issue in England and we agree with the mayor that the data captured needs to be shared between both national and local authorities to drive good decision-making. A well-functioning scheme to bring short-term lets up to standard would be hugely significant and I hope that the government can work with mayors and local authorities across the country to make it a success,” she added.
In a wider context, the UK Government is planning to introduce tightened regulations on the short-term rental sector later this year, whereby hosts would be obliged to obtain planning permission if they want to let out their property / properties on online platforms such as Airbnb.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is currently holding a further consultation on a new registration scheme for short-term rentals in the UK, meanwhile The Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities held its own consultation on the introduction of a use class for short-term lets and associated permitted development rights, which closed in June.
Elsewhere in the UK, the Welsh Government’s attempts to introduce a statutory licensing scheme for short-term rentals was met with recent fierce opposition, after 1595 responses were received from across the country.
The government’s statement on the consultation results read: “Several recurring themes were regularly reflected across multiple consultation questions. The most common overarching themes were:
“… the view that the proposed statutory licensing scheme would create significant administrative and financial burden.
“… the suggestion that the visitor accommodation market is highly competitive and thus already operates efficiently.
“… general disagreement with any form of statutory licensing, without offering any further explanations for this view.”