Short-Lets in SE1: Debate

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Friday 23 May 2014 10.07am
Both the city authorities in New York and Berlin are currently in legal action to constrain the activities of 'Airbnb' - a website allowing people to let-out their homes like hotels - providing accommodation to strangers for as little as one night.

Residents have complained of constant noise, people renting flats for the sole purpose of hosting parties - a breakdown of community, etc.

Airbnb are now active in SE1 - just take a look at the number of flats available in SE1 on their website.

Is it legal in the UK to rent out your flat in this way?

To effectively turn your home into a hotel? Does this breach planning regulations?

Have people had bad experiences with short-lets either as a landlord or a neighbour living next to the short let flat?

Presumably, it is prohibited to undertake short lets in public housing?

Or do you think that people should be allowed to make a bit of extra (tax free) money, and to hell with what anyone else thinks?

I think that is issue is going to grow locally, that we will see more and more short lets as they are so much more profitable for landlords than longer-term lets, and that the Council (whomever they may turn out to be tomorrow) really need to take a good look at this and set out some planning policy. or is there nothing legally that they can do about? (in our liberalist UK legal system where individual rights trump the rights of the community - every single tme.)
Friday 23 May 2014 11.03am
Don't know if anyone's doing AirBnB in the flats where we live, but I do know that it's becoming more common for regular short tenancies to involve a lot more sharers than they used to, with the result that there are more people in total living here than 10 yrs ago.

Two bed places are more likely to have four rooms are being used as bedrooms...etc.

...if you press it, they will come.
Friday 23 May 2014 2.28pm
This topic was discussed before the Olympics (people thinking of renting out their properties at high rents during that period) and I think someone said that the owner would need to get permission from the council for short-term, but regular rental. Certainly there was an article on the local news and I seem to remember that some borough's allow it. I would hate to live next door to such a property; not knowing who was in the property at any one time. In a block of flats, which presumable most are, it must be awful.
Friday 23 May 2014 2.57pm
Turning a residential property into a hotel requires planning permission.
Friday 23 May 2014 3.25pm
It breaches the terms of most leases and can also invalidate your insurance. We have had issues with AirBnB style letting in our block - one flat owner renting out whilst they were on holiday and another handing their flat over to an agency for a two year period for holiday lets. There are a constant stream of people with wheelie cases asking for directions. It's a great idea from a guest point of view and as a revenue stream for flat owners but we've had problems with parties, entrance doors being propped open, visitors letting people in without vetting them, not to mention a guy who stayed next door for a week and had a fair number of female visitors during the afternoons. Our soundproofing is not what it could be! I was just pleased he was only there short term.

In the context of SE1, it adds to the already disproportionate level of temporary residents. Both Southwark and Lambeth have granted planning permission for so many hotels, student accommodation, backpacker hostels and even offices to some extent that it has created a huge transient community. Not that it's a bad thing but the things longer term residents want like more family housing/basically anything that's not a 1 or 2 bedroom flat, affordable housing, larger supermarkets, etc are pushed off the agenda.

That's not meant to sound overly negative - just wish there was a bit more of a strategy on both issues.
Saturday 24 May 2014 10.34pm
Airbnb is a brilliant option for booking holiday accommodation both abroad and in the Uk ...Cheaper and so much better than bog standard hotels . This sounds a bit like the campaign being waged against cab operators such as uber ...the old overpriced economy fighting back against web based newcomers.
Monday 26 May 2014 9.43pm
Interesting to see an Airbnb advert at the Barbican cinema this evening.clearly going pretty mainstream these days
Wednesday 28 May 2014 12.32pm
From a 2011 document:

Document wrote:
Using property for „short-term letting‟ is only prohibited in some London Councils:
Tower Hamlets, Southwark, Camden, the Royal Borough of Kensington and
Chelsea and Westminster. The other twenty-eight boroughs do not impose
controls on this type of property usage

It also states:

Document wrote:
The London Borough of Southwark do not have accessible information on the control of short-term letting.

As mentioned, there are also conditions in most mortgage leases and insurance about sub-letting. If the sublets amount to over (from memory) around 150 nights per year, this is then classed as a business, and you stop paying council tax and have to pay business rates.

As an aside, I love using airBNB to find places to stay when I travel. I get the impression most people generally like staying in homes rather than hotels, so I dont think this emerging market is going away anytime soon. The company is now valued at $10 billion.
Wednesday 28 May 2014 1.09pm
I think most people renting out their properties on Airbnb fall well under the 150 nights a year threshold and would see it more like having friends or family stay over when in London etc.
Thursday 29 May 2014 9.22am
Renting out a flat turns that part of a community into a business. It is unfortunate that neighbours are pushed from a residential area into a commercial zone, without their consent as they derive no benefit, indeed they lose amenity, as their homes become a support for sub-landlords and their six-monthly tenants.
At The Draper Estate for example, the short term tenants tend not to engage in our events, whilst their landlords only appear at meetings to stop their free-holder (our landlord) investing in our homes.
The different interests of leaseholders and tenants are many, but the long-term secure tenants are denied any benefit from the change of use of their communities from residential to commercial, whilst providing a stable community, which tends to inflate the rental levels of leaseholders.
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