Airbnb landlords earning annual rent in just 115 days, councillor tells MPs

Westminster Council has called on the government to help it rid the short-term lets sector of landlords abusing the system and to bring more properties back to the PRS.

Giving evidence to the House of Lords’ Built Environment Committee on the impact of short-term lettings, councillor Matt Noble (main pic) highlighted the stark reality for young people in the London borough who can’t afford to buy or rent, and where the waiting time for a two-bed council house is 10 years and 34 years for a four-bed house.

The cabinet member for climate, regeneration and renters told peers that most of its 7,047 Airbnb properties (71% of which are entire homes) had come from the PRS where a tenant was now sub-letting. “For the income on long-term rent, you can get the same income on a short term let in 115 nights,” he explained.

Flouting the law

Some properties on the platform were also openly flouting the law which restricts short-term letting to 90 days a year, said Noble, who added: “I’d be very surprised if any of the people sub-letting are paying any tax at all.”

He highlighted the uneven playing field created by the sector for traditional established hospitality businesses. “The Ritz Hotel pays £2.27m in business rates annually, yet the combined council tax bill for one apartment building which had 98 short term lettings is £93,000,” said Noble. “We need to redress the balance and look at that the way it’s inflating private rents.”

Guide: Ultimate guide to short-lets and Airbnb insurance.

The councillor told the committee that Westminster was in favour of a compulsory registration scheme – tied in with data from the letting platforms – which would help it bring prosecutions for anti-social behaviour and to gather data to push out bad apples.

Read more stories about Westminster’s Airbnb short-lets market.

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