Better regulation of short-term lets
We, along with many other local authorities, have been calling for some time for more powers that would allow us to tackle the issues caused by short-term lets which can have an impact on the sustainability of communities and the availability and affordability of homes for local people.
Short-term lets can have a detrimental impact on residents, from anti-social behaviour to crime, poorly managed short-term letting can make people’s lives difficult.
We believe that there should be a compulsory registration scheme so that the council and our partners can enforce against irresponsible letting.
We believe a mandatory registration scheme will ensure a level playing field for traditional accommodation providers such as hotels and maintain standards for visitors to Westminster, whilst also protecting residential amenity.
The government has put forward plans for a registration scheme. For the scheme to work properly we are calling on the government to make sure that:
- the scheme holds the hosts to account for their guests’ behaviour
- the registration scheme applies to each property rather than each host to allow for more in depth data and easier enforcement
- proportionate registration fees administered through a sliding scale based on units owned
- the registration being regularly renewed and with sufficient documentation relating to the owner and health and safety checks.
A registration scheme will only improve the regulation of short-term lets, it will do nothing to stop homes being lost to holiday rentals. There are at least 10,500 short-term lets in Westminster. To put that in to context, there are approximately 4,000 households on our housing waiting list, and this figure is seven times the amount of homes needed in Westminster to meet the Government’s Housing Delivery Test.
The changes proposed by government would, unless changed, have a catastrophic and permanent effect on the housing market in Westminster.
Westminster is calling for a return to the pre-2015 position in London, where short-term letting of entire residential homes required planning permission and the council had the power to stop short-term lets in parts of the city.
If government is determined to stick with the mechanism it is proposing, then there must be a transition period, to enable Local Authorities to establish protections, and ensure that the voices and interests of local communities can be heard.