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Airbnb on council estates: housing boss urges 'test case'

Southwark's housing boss says that she wants the council to take legal action against leaseholders who rent out homes on council estates as holiday homes on Airbnb and similar services.

Cllr Stephanie Cryan, cabinet member for housing management, was questioned by St George's ward councillor Maria Linforth-Hall at Monday's overview & scrutiny committee about how the council is tackling the nuisance caused by some Airbnb rentals, with residents complaining of noise and problems with security.

"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," said Cllr Linforth-Hall.

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 explained that if a council tenant is illegally subletting on Airbnb, it is a straightforward breach of tenancy which can lead to eviction.

Where leaseholders are concerned, the council has considered taking action under antisocial behaviour provisions in the lease, but this is more difficult to prove.

Cllr Cryan said that in some cases the council had been able to persuade leaseholders to desist from holiday lettings without taking legal action, but she was now minded to push matters to court.

"I think we now maybe need to take the risk of taking someone to court," she said.

"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."

Last summer residents of the Dodson & Amigo Estate in St George's ward made a deputation to Southwark's council assembly to highlight the noise and antisocial behaviour linked to holiday lets on their estate.

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