According to research carried out by the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) nearly two thirds of all listings on Airbnb in London are for lets of 90 days or more.
This means that these landlords are breaking letting regulations in England, which state that lets on a short term basis can be for no longer than 90 days per calendar year.
The RLA contend that a surprisingly high number of landlords, chiefly in London, could be abusing the holiday lettings website Airbnb by illegally offering properties to rent long-term on a site designed for short term lets.
By advertising properties as holiday lets on Airbnb and similar sites they are trying to avoid their legal responsibilities when renting out their properties.
In total, the RLA claim, their analysis shows that 65% of all listings on Airbnb in London fall into this category. Through advertising longer lets on the website, property owners could be avoiding having to give tenants secure tenancy agreements, which give tenants protection under the Housing Acts, and also a protected deposit, plus having to meet stricter safety and many other regulations governing rented housing.
The RLA’s research shows that nearly 7,000 homes or flats are multi-listings – where hosts have more than one property on the site and of these, 78% are available for more than 90 days per year.
There is also strong evidence to show that tenants are sub-letting rooms through Airbnb without the consent or knowledge of their landlord. A survey of RLA members found that 15% of landlords have discovered their tenants have been advertising a property or room on lettings sites without asking for permission.
Landlords whose properties are sub-let without their knowledge could find themselves with serious problems under the new… ‘Right to Rent’ legislation as they will not have been able to check the residency status of tenants and also could unwittingly fall foul of HMO licensing requirements.
They could also be contravening their mortgage and insurance conditions. The RLA is calling for an urgent review by the Government and the Mayor of London into the use of holiday letting sites and how to clamp down on criminal practices by property owners and tenants.
Alan Ward, Chairman of the Residential Landlords Association says: “The growing popularity of holiday letting sites such as Airbnb raises serious questions about their potential for abuse. “Ministers must act to clamp down on those property owners using the website to deny tenants safe, legal and secure accommodation. Landlords also need support to address illegal sub-letting of properties by their tenants.”