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Council urged to get tough on Airbnb-style rentals

A north London council is being encouraged to take a tough stance on reported Airbnb and equivalent style rentals in an effort to reduce the growing number of short-lets in the borough.

Campaigners in Bloomsbury want Camden Council to take action because they are concerned that an “epidemic” of Airbnb-style bookings is changing the character of the neighbourhood and the wider London Borough of Camden, taking much-needed homes out of the rental market.

A growing number of BTL landlords are turning to short term holiday let market.

Analysis by the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) last year found that more than 130,000 homes had potentially been taken out of the long term private rented sector as more buy-to-let landlords list properties on short-term holiday home websites such as Airbnb instead.

The biggest jump in the number of individuals advertising property on Airbnb has been recorded in London, where there was a 75% rise in the volume of multi-listings on Airbnb between February 2016 and March 2017.

Many rental properties and rooms in popular areas like Camden are routinely marketed to tourists at a much higher rate than landlords would get by bringing in longer-stay private tenants. But Ricci De Freitas, from the Marchmont Association, said a 90-day limit on the use of properties for holiday lets was being abused, which has led to a rise in complaints of “noise nuisance” and the “comings and goings of strangers at all hours of day and night”.

De Freitas told the Camden New Journal: “Although it is early days for the implementation of this policy, it might be a good time for Camden to run a parallel pilot in the worst-affected areas, which I understand to be that part of the borough lying south of Euston Road.”

The Marchmont Association has asked Camden to mount “a public-awareness campaign” and to “make it easier for residents to complain about suspected short-lets”.

Labour regeneration chief Councillor Danny Beales told the local newspaper: “We are very concerned about the growing problem of unauthorised short-term lets in Camden.

“We are lobbying at a national level for changes which will make it easier for us to tackle this issue in an effective way. We are exploring the potential role for exemption zones, or a night-time visitor levy to provide resources needed to deal with the costs of short-term lets.”

He added: “The council has already shown success in tackling the issue. It played a proactive role in negotiating with Airbnb to impose the 90-day limit on their website. We are developing an engagement strategy, including working with Airbnb and other letting sites, and are sharing experiences across councils in the inner London area.”

“Exemption zones” are now being considered at the Town Hall.

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