Buy-to-let landlords who let out their properties as short-term holiday lets should be hit with fresh taxes to deter them from breaking the government’s clear 90-night limit on short-term letting, it has been suggested.
An increasing number of buy-to-let landlords are letting out their homes as short-term holiday lets following the introduction of a raft of ‘anti-landlord’ policies, such as the scrapping of the 10% ‘wear and tear’ tax allowance and the phasing out of mortgage tax relief, prompting concern that there could be a net reduction of long-term private rented properties next year.
But while landlords seek alternative ways to boost income levels, including the use of homes as short-term holiday lets, it is tenants who are starting to suffer as fewer homes are available for them rent for the long-term.
However, Westminster Council in London is concerned about ‘nightly letting’, i.e. people who break the rules to let their property all year round on a commercial basis, frequently for one-to-two nights at a time.
To help secure longer term security for tenants, Cllr Nickie Aiken, the Conservative leader of Westminster Council, would like to see the government change its tax policy when it comes to short-term lets, in order to encourage more landlords to provide longer term lets, by taxing nightly lets.
She said: “I am calling on the government to introduce a new tax on nightly letting as local tax payers unfairly bear the burden of our related council services and activities.”
To help catch out landlords breaking the 90-night rule, Westminster Council has deployed a new team of investigative council officers to tackle irresponsible or unlawful nightly letting.
These officers will build evidence so that the council can prosecute landlords who are breaking the government’s 90-night limit on short-term letting.
AirBnB letting in Westminster has more than doubled from 1,603 in 2015 to 3,621 in 2017.
As of September 2017 almost 1,500 properties are being investigated for potential unauthorised use for short-lets.
Traditionally the council has found it difficult to gather sufficient evidence to prosecute, but this is expected to change with the launch of the Housing Standards Task Force as part of the MyWestminster programme.
Cllr Aiken commented: “I know there are many who legitimately and responsibly let out their homes for under 90-nights a year to make some extra money.
“However, some selfish people treat this as an entirely commercial enterprise, letting their property out for one or two nights at a time all year round, with little or no thought to the wider community.”
“It is quite simple. Ninety days must mean just that. Companies must take responsibility for some of the unintended consequences of their business model, which is causing misery in pockets of ours and other cities across the world.”