Westminster council calls for restrictions on Airbnb-style rentals

Westminster Council is calling for new powers to curb the use of Airbnb-style rental properties and crack down on rogue landlords who are “making life hell for many of our residents”.

The London council is urging the UK government to introduce regulations that would allow it and other local authorities to refuse permission to landlords who wish to let their properties for days or weeks at a time.

Westminster also wants people who rent properties through booking platforms, such as Booking.com and Airbnb, to be registered, making it easier for the council to track down and fine landlords who break short-let rules. term.

As pandemic restrictions have eased across the country and visitors have returned to the capital, there have been increased complaints about late-night parties, overcrowding and even sex work in rental apartments, said the board.

“Many short-term let properties strain council resources and make life hell for many of our residents who constantly complain to us about the adverse effects they are having,” said council leader Rachael Robathan. Municipality of Westminster, who stressed that the authority supports the responsible use of short-term rentals.

Short-term rentals have exploded in London and other popular tourist destinations since the launch of services such as Airbnb, founded in 2008, which allow owners to list their properties for a period of days or weeks.

These services have been welcomed by travelers and have been a boon for hosts, but the proliferation of short-term rentals has also been blamed for an increase in anti-social behavior and the hollowing out of city centers. Other cities, including Paris and Amsterdam, already have registration systems in place that typically require guests to register with the council who is staying with them and for how long.

Westminster claimed there were 13,000 London homes available for short-term rental, many of them in the center of the city. The “industrial scale” of the rental has drawn complaints from residents.

A resident of William Mews, near Hyde Park, complained after a recent party at a nearby rental property. “There is nothing desirable about having a commercial enterprise doing business on a quiet residential street that is now at my front door.”

They said they feared “answering their own door” with the “narrow street crowded with additional vehicles”.

According to Westminster, there were well over 100 apartments listed on short-term rental sites in a single building near Edgware Road – and there were recently more rooms advertised than there were in the whole of Ritz hotel.

“Our city inspectors are working closely with police to shut down unauthorized short-term events as quickly and safely as possible,” Robathan said.

“But ultimately we need more restrictions and powers given to us as a local authority to tackle anti-social short-term rental behavior.”

The government is expected to announce a call for evidence on tourist accommodation in the coming weeks, and Westminster will then formally submit its proposals.

Airbnb said it already cracks down on antisocial behavior by users of its platform.

“Airbnb welcomes regulation: Last year we put forward proposals for a host registration system, and we’re delighted the government is consulting on a similar approach this year,” the company said.

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