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MPs call for greater powers to ‘clamp down’ on illegal lets in London

With a growing number of buy-to-let landlords in London now using short-term letting platforms like Airbnb to breach the rules for letting properties, MPs are calling for greater powers to crackdown on abuses of existing legislation that permit homes to be rented out short-term for up to 90 days a year.

Addressing Parliament yesterday, Westminster North Labour MP Karen Buck, supported by nine other MPs, said that landlords should have to notify councils of the dates that their property is being used for short-letting.

According to Buck, Westminster council, alone, is currently investigating more than 1,100 properties which are believed to have been in breach of the 90-night limit.

She said that she welcomed the “freedom for homeowners to let their properties”, but insisted that “without excessive bureaucratic interference” it is hard for “cash-strapped councils to police the rules”.

“Alongside the responsible owner-occupiers are irresponsible ones, illegal sub-letters and an increasingly significant commercial operation, seeking to take advantage of potentially higher yields,” she added.

Earlier this month, the Mayor of London urged short-term agents operating in London, including Veeve, One Fine Stay, Wimdu, Booking.com, HomeAway and Airsorted, to block hosts from renting out homes in the capital for more than 90 days.

But until there is a change in the existing rules to monitor activity levels in the market, Field insisted that “a free-for-all in short-term lets” will keep “causing misery for thousands of our constituents”.

“We want the local council to have effective powers to clamp down on this,” she added. 

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