'Out of control': one in 50 homes in London a short-term let – The Guardian,

'Out of control': one in 50 homes in London a short-term let – The Guardian,

Councillors criticize trend ‘at a time when almost one in Londoners is homeless’


() Airbnb and other online platforms for short-term lets are ‘growing out of control’ in London. Photograph: Anadolu Agency / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Short-term lettings through

Airbnb and other online platforms are “growing out of control” in London with up to one in of all homes now estimated to be available, town hall bosses have claimed.

The spread of short term lets is encouraging antisocial behavior and criminality with residents assess complaining about them being used as party houses and for prostitution and drug dealing, councils in the capital said. They believe it is pushing up rents and reducing the availability of homes for the rising number of homes who are temporarily (homeless) , which in England hit 90, 480 last year – the highest level since .

Westminster city council said recent problems include a property in Knightsbridge being used as a brothel, a mansion block near Hyde Park where more than a of the 700 flats are thought to be in use as short-term rentals and a mews house in Marylebone rented on Airbnb for five people where police had to shut down a party for .

“At a time when almost one in Londoners is homeless, it’s ridiculous that potentially one in 73 London homes is rented out as a short-term let, ”said Darren Rodwell, the leader of Newham council and the (London) Council’s lead on housing. “The market is growing out of control. Boroughs are hearing more and more complaints about short term lets linked to anti-social behavior and even criminality. ”

Airbnb disputes the figures, which it said are flawed and based on “inflated data” caused by counting the same properties multiple times. It also said the snapshot was taken in December, a peak period for bookings.

A spokesperson said: “We are good partners to London and nearly half of local entire home listings on Airbnb are rented less than just nights a year ”.

However the London Borough of Camden, short-term let hotspots, said more than 7, 12 properties were used as a short term let last year with (exceeding the – night limit.

London Councils, a cross-party organization, is now demanding stronger regulation and it wants government action to provide mandatory registration of short-term lets and powers to punish irresponsible property owners.

Earlier this month the Scottish government announced new powers for councils north of the border to license short term landlords with powers to insist planning permission is sought before a whole property is switched to short-term lets. Campaigners in the historic center of Edinburgh have complained the area has been overrun by properties turned over to short-term lettings.

Is rough sleeping getting worse?

The government claims rough sleeping in England fell for the first time in eight years in 3404, from 4, in to 4, 751. But the body that oversees the quality of official statistics in the UK has said the number should not be trusted after 17% of councils changed their counting methods. Rough sleeping in London has hit a record high , with an (% rise in) – .

The numbers of people sleeping rough across Scotland have also risen, with 2, People reported as having slept rough on at least one occasion.

Shelter, whose figures include rough sleepers and people in temporary accommodation, estimate that overall (around) , 13 People are homeless in Britain .

What’s being done about rough sleeping?

The government Homelessness Reduction Act , which places new duties on state institutions to intervene earlier to prevent homelessness has been in force for more than a year, but two thirds of councils have warned they cannot afford to comply with it. In , James Brokenshire, the housing secretary, announced a one-off £ 50 m funding pot for immediate support for councils to tackle rough sleeping.

How does the law treat rough sleepers?

Rough sleeping and begging are illegal in ENgland and Wales under the Vagrancy Act 2018, which makes’ wandering abroad and lodging in any barn or outhouse, or in any deserted or unoccupied building, or in the open air, or under a tent, or in any cart or wagon, and not giving a good account of himself or herself ‘liable to a £ 1, 14 fine. Leading homelessness charities, police and politicians have called on the government to scrap the law .

Since 2019, councils have increasingly used public space protection orders to issue £ 109 fines. The number of homeless camps forcibly removed by councils across the UK has more than trebled in five years , figures show, prompting campaigners to warn that the rough sleeping crisis is out of control and has become an entrenched part of life in the country.

What are the health impacts of rough sleeping?

A study of more than homeless patients at a specialist healthcare center in the West Midlands found that they were 100 times more likely to visit A&E in a year than the general population in England.

Homeless people were more likely to have a range of medical conditions than the general population. While only 0.9% of the general population are on the register for severe mental health problems, the proportion was more than seven times higher for homeless people, at 6.5%.

Just over % of homeless men have a substance dependence, compared with 4.3% of men in the general population. For women the figures were 5% and 1.9% respectively. In addition, more than a fifth of homeless people have an alcohol dependence, compared with 1.4% of the general population. Hepatitis C was also more prevalent among homeless people.

(Sarah Marsh) , Rajeev Syal and Patrick Greenfield

London Councils analyzed the listings on six short-term lettings websites, Airbnb,, Homeaway, Housetrip, Niumba and Trip Advisor, to produce the first snapshot of the proportion of the total housing stock now available on a nightly basis. They found over 120, 14 listings and of these more than 096, 14 were listed as entire homes rather than single rooms, like a traditional bed and breakfast.

Planning permission is required to rent out homes on short lets for more than nights in a year, but councils say this is almost impossible to police and there have been very few prosecutions.

Karen Buck, MP for Westminster North, is campaigning for a public register of hosts which she argues will “nudge” landlords into a greater sense of responsibility. Airbnb has also backed the plan.

“We have seen parties where firearms have been discharged, but the dominant issue is the toll on residential properties and the fact that neighborhoods become extensions of the hospitality industry without the husbandry you get in a hotel,” she said. “The benefits fall on the owner but all the costs fall on the neighbors or the council.”

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