More than 8,300 Londoners have called 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.
Generation Rent Campaigner Georgie Laming said: “These tube ads are feeding a narrative that tenants are disposable, and profiteering from property is more important than providing long term homes. They are encouraging landlords to take homes off the market and turn them into hotels that will be often left empty, contributing nothing to the local community.
“If Sadiq Khan is truly committed to making housing affordable in London then he needs to ban ads like these. Unregulated holiday lets are driving up rents and preventing tenants from making a house a home.”
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.
In his letter to the mayor, he argues that the limit is “vital” in preventing an increasing number of London properties becoming “permanent holiday homes… at time of housing crisis in our city”.
Alongside banning advertisements from Hostmaker, Copley has called upon the mayor to go further and update TfL’s advertising policy to only allow advertisements from short-term letting management companies if they have implemented a voluntary cap to enforce the 90-day limit.
At the end of 2016, Airbnb announced their plans to voluntarily introduce a 90-day limit on ‘entire home’ listings in the Greater London area.
Copley said: “The current 90-day limit law is a vital measure that is stemming the growing tide of London properties being turned into permanent holiday homes.
“With a burgeoning housing crisis in London, it is unacceptable that unscrupulous companies, such as Hostmaker, which encourage landlords to flout the law are being allowed to advertise on the TfL network.
“This is sending the wrong message when we should be focussing on tightening regulation in the expanding home-sharing sector in the capital to prevent long-term rented housing for Londoners being lost to holiday lets for tourists.
“I hope the Mayor carefully considers the proposals in my letter for TfL to reject adverts from property management companies that have no interest in enforcing the law.”
But Hostmaker’s press office has got in touch with us to defend the way the agency works and the adverts it publishes.
Renaud Barnoin, general manager of Hostmaker London, said: “We are committed to complying with all rules and regulations in the markets we operate in and the London 90-day rule is no different.
“We provide furnished and managed housing for short, mid and long-term rental needs, and our flexible lettings solution is designed for hosts to make the most of short lets and switch to medium and long lets when the 90-day limit is reached, opening housing stock to local demand.
“In a cosmopolitan city like London, there is always going to be a need for a range of housing and rental solutions.
“We were pleased to be one of the inaugural members of the APPG for Short Lets and are committed to continuing a dialogue with all parties to ensure the needs of a diverse housing and rental market are addressed.”
You can view the petition by clicking here.