New task force investigating properties for nightly letting

Sun, 04/03/2018

Westminster Councils new Housing Standards Task force is investigating hundreds of properties, and shutting down those unlawfully nightly letting.

The task force is working with teams across the council utilising our powers to stop illegal letting. In some cases, this may require working with landlords to evict illegal sub-letters, fines for anti-social behaviour, enforcement notices, and possible prosecutions.

Currently the law allows property owners to let their property online for up to 90 nights per calendar year. People abusing this 90 night rule have little or no vested interest in their neighbours, and we have received a high level of complaints about noise, anti-social behaviour, and issues of waste.

With thousands of properties in Westminster being let for short periods of time, such as nightly, the task force is currently investigating hundreds of properties to make sure they are nightly letting within the law.

The task force will also be speaking to property owners and surrounding residents to ensure they understand the rules. 

The task force will help improve the work the council has already done to combat unlawful nightly lets. The council is investigating many issues with nightly letting including:

  • multiple parties and music events have been illegally held in nightly let properties (one in Maida Vale made headlines, while another incident in St John’s Wood has led to potential eviction action against the sub-letter)
  • several incidents of overcrowding have been recorded including 10 people renting a single 3 bed property while working for several weeks at local fun fair
  • many apartments have been lost to the housing market due to agents subletting them as nightly lets, with growing use by medical tourists
  • sex workers have been found using nightly let properties to discreetly facilitate sex work - several buildings in Westminster are being regularly hired by sex workers, and specific incidents are under investigation including 2 male escorts hiring a property in Marylebone for sex work

All of these incidents are currently under investigation, and where evidence is obtained confirming beyond reasonable doubt that a criminal offence has taken place, prosecution action will follow.

Councillor Nickie Aiken, Leader of Westminster City Council, said:

“This is not about the many who legitimately and responsibly let out their homes for under 90 nights a year to make some extra money.

“This is about dealing with those people who have set up 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.

“Our new Housing Standards Task Force will be informing nightly letters of the rules, and taking action against people flaunting those rules.

“Using our partnerships across the council and industry our task force will be cracking down on the noise and disruption caused by a growing number of nightly lets.

“Our Considerate Landlord Charter will ask landlords large and small to follow several simple rules to improve nightly letting in their properties.

“Those trying to turn their properties into illegal mini hotels and party pads beware, our Housing Standards Task Force will shut you down.”

The task force will focus on informing residents on how to let their property responsibly, while respecting neighbours. Westminster residents will also have a chance to speak to task force Officers as they will be going door-to-door handing-out helpful information leaflets. These leaflets will include guidelines on nightly letting such as, asking those who are staying to keep noise down, and how to properly dispose of waste.

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Last updated: 10 July 2018
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