Hostmaker, which specialises in managing London properties put on to Airbnb and other short-let platforms, has apologised for causing controversy over the past few days by promoting a marketing campaign on Transport for London buses and tubes encouraging landlords to abandon tenants and instead let their properties to short-let visitors to the capital.
More than 8,300 Londoners have signed a petition calling on London Mayor Sadiq Khan to ban adverts ‘encouraging’ landlords to abandon long-term tenants for Airbnb-style holiday rentals.
The petition was started by Generation Rent, the national campaign for private renters, after property management company Hostmaker paid for adverts across the Transport for London network suggesting landlords can earn 30% more by switching to holiday lets.
Labour’s London Assembly housing spokesperson, Tom Copley, has already written to the Mayor of London asking for a ban on advertisements on the tube network promoting home-sharing management firm, Hostmaker.
Copley argues that Hostmaker is encouraging landlords to break the law and flout the 90-day annual limit for short-term lettings in London. He said that allowing unscrupulous property management companies to advertise on the Transport for London (TfL) network is “sending the wrong message” when regulation should be tightened in the expanding home-sharing sector.
Under current regulations put in place under the Deregulation Act 2015, it is illegal for landlords to rent out their homes in the capital for more than 90 nights a year on short-term lets unless they obtain specific planning permission from their local council.
A recent investigation by the BBC found that Hostmaker, alongside a number of other short-term lettings management companies, are offering services to help landlords evade the 90-day limit.
To help to defuse the situation and potentially stop it from getting out of hand, Nakul Sharma, Hostmaker’s CEO and founder, has now apologised for the firm’s latest marketing campaign and pledged to pull down the “misguided” short-term rental ads.
He said: “We are sorry for the concern caused by our recent ad campaign and we acknowledge the tone was misguided. The adverts will be coming down this weekend and we will be reviewing all future creatives with our partners.
“In a cosmopolitan city like London, there is a need for a range of housing and rental solutions to meet the needs of the wide variety of residents and visitors in our capital city.
“Whilst it’s critical that there is plenty of affordable housing stock available, our portfolio is made up of premium homes in zone one and two postcodes and does not take affordable housing stock away from the market.
“We are here to meet the needs of Londoners and visitors to the capital who would prefer to stay in a high quality, furnished and managed home service.
“We provide a flexible lettings model to homeowners of these type of properties; blending long-term, mid-term and short-term rentals to suit market demands and help homeowners weather the current slump in rent prices and property sales, ensuring they aren’t left with gaps in the year when their property is standing empty.”
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