A win in the fight to tackle short-term lets

Published:
London

In a landmark case, one of our leaseholders has been found guilty of advertising their property as a holiday let through Booking.com and Airbnb.       

The leaseholder was found to have breached their tenancy agreement, by using their property as a business. They did so by earning income through short-term lettings to tourists who were visiting the St John’s Wood area. Our team were able to build a strong case, using evidence ranging from emails to reviews left by the visitors.

What is short-letting and why is it a problem?

Short-term letting is when a property is let for anything less than 90 consecutive days. Any let shorter than this is in breach of the lease. While the Deregulation Act (2015) allows short letting for a period of up to 90 days in a calendar year, the lease prohibits this and supersedes the law (as it is a contract between the leaseholder, the property and the landlord). The issue is growing nationwide, with nearly 1,500 properties in Westminster alone under investigation.

This type of letting has led to problems with Anti-Social Behaviour, damage and rubbish left in communal areas. We take this very seriously and are dedicated to ensuring our estates are a safe and comfortable place for everyone. When we discover a short-let, we will act immediately and pursue legal action if necessary.

Cllr David Harvey, Cabinet Member for Housing Services at Westminster City Council said:

“Short-term letting is taking place on an unprecedented level in Westminster – we believe up to 11,000 properties are available for short-term letting across the borough. This places a huge burden on our residents, who are often victims of disruption from tourists coming and going from their estates.

“Our priority is to protect our residents and their communities. Waiting lists for council properties in Westminster are extensive, so we want to continue to defend residents in genuine need of a home.

“We’re pleased with this result and we hope it sends a clear message that we’re taking this issue seriously and will crack down on this type of breach.”

We are working with the leaseholder to ensure they do not re-list the property and will take further action if they don’t comply.

Working with other councils in London and across the UK, we are also calling on the government to introduce a compulsory cross-platform registration scheme for property owners. This will help councils to know which properties are being short-let and for how long.

If you suspect any form of unauthorised short-letting, or would like to discuss your lease, you can contact us in confidence on 0800 358 3783 or email housing.enquiries@westminster.gov.uk