Buy-to-let landlords in London are being encouraged by property management firms to break strict short-term letting laws in the capital, an undercover BBC investigation has found.
An increasing number of buy-to-let landlords in London are now using short-term letting platforms like Airbnb to rent out property, but some are abusing the existing legislation that permit homes to be rented out short-term for up to 90 days a year with consent from the local authority.
Some companies were secretly recorded explaining methods to get around the tough rules.
A senior manager from Hostmaker, which specialises in short-term rentals, was secretly recorded explaining how the firm could help landlords get around the law.
She said: “We do a new listing for you. We delist this one, start from scratch again.
“We will do fresh photos. If you use existing photographs, Airbnb's algorithm tracks it as the same property. We do everything new. And then your 90-day ticker will start from scratch again.”
An agent from another management firm, Guestready, was also secretly recorded.
She commented: “We'll create another listing for you and they won't even know.
“It's not that you shouldn't really do it, it's just that everyone does it.”
Maxime Leufroy Murat, CEO of Cityrelay, was also filmed offering advice on ways in which landlords can rent out property short-term for more than 90 days.
He advised: “We will never do more than 90 days on Airbnb - but you will get bookings from bookings.com, HomeAway, TripAdvisor.
“It might be 180 days in the end. 200 days.”
Labour MP Karen Buck, who has campaigned for greater regulation on short-term lets, described the undercover footage as "absolutely shocking".
She said: “It undermines everything we were told about how short-let accommodation would work and it's really deeply dispiriting.”
These firms are “misleading” landlords, according to housing lawyer David Smith.
He commented: “They are misinforming and misleading the people they are dealing with by suggesting to them that what they are doing is not unlawful.
“It is and it should stop.”
You can watch the full undercover investigation on yesterday’s episode of Inside Out London by clicking here.