An increasing number of landlords are attempting to evade their legal responsibilities when it comes to renting out property by advertising it as a holiday let on sites such as Airbnb, according to newly updated research.
The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) claims that 61% of all London based property listings on Airbnb in June were for lets of 90 days or more, and this could be breaking the law which says that lets on a short-term basis can be for no longer than 90 days per calendar year.
The research shows that 41% of all Airbnb listings in London in June were multi-listings meaning the property owners had more than one property listed. This increased from 38% in February. The number increased from 12,744 to 17,593, a sign that the website is increasingly becoming commercialised.
The RLA is concerned that many landlords may be avoiding having to give tenants secure tenancy agreements, a protected deposit and meeting safety and many other regulations governing rented housing, by advertising longer lets through these holiday home websites.
The trade body also fears that many existing tenants may be using these websites to advertise rooms for sub-letting without the consent or knowledge of their landlord.
Landlords whose properties are sub-let without their knowledge could also face problems under the new ‘right to rent’ legislation as they will not have been able to check the residency status of tenants and also could unwittingly fall foul of HMO licensing requirements.
RLA policy director, David Smith, said: "London more than anywhere else in the country is in desperate need of more homes to rent and to buy.
"Given the pressures faced in the capital it is important that properties advertised as being available for more than 90 days a year are genuine holiday lets with appropriate planning permission. Otherwise, as well as taking rental stock off the market for those looking for somewhere to live, they are also putting tenants in a vulnerable position without all the protections offered by a tenancy agreement."
The RLA is now calling on the mayor of London and the government to undertake a review of the policing of holiday letting sites and unveil new measures designed to help clampdown on potentially criminal practices by property owners and tenants.
"We are calling on the mayor of London and the government to work together to improve the policing of such sites to ensure they are not being abused," Smith added.