Short-term letting regulations need tightening

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A number of letting companies throughout London have been expressing their concern with suggestions that some landlords in the capital are flouting short-term letting regulations. There is an array of short-term letting companies across the UK allowing owners to let their properties on a short-term basis when perhaps they are out of the country or otherwise engaged. In order to stop abuse of the system there is a 90 day cap on short-term lettings which should be enough. However, do short-term letting regulations need tightening?

The 90 day cap

The 90 day cap is simply designed to stop landlords permanently advertising their properties for short-term tenants on sites such as AirBnB where there is the potential to attract premium rates. The idea is that those looking to let their properties on a long-term basis should be legally obliged to offer them to long-term tenants in the UK as opposed to short-term visitors. This does make perfect sense when you sit back and think about it but there appears to be a loophole in the regulations.

Due to a very simple quirk in the regulations the 90 day cap is effectively null and void if a landlord applies for planning permission on their property. We have yet to see cold hard evidence but there are suggestions some landlords are applying for bogus planning permission simply to avoid the 90 day cap and continue letting their properties on a short-term basis often on premium rates. However, we do need to say that many landlords apply for planning permission for perfectly valid reasons and may consequently benefit from the resetting of the 90 day cap.

Starving the UK of letting stock

The buy to let market in the UK is heavily regulated and it does seem rather bizarre that a prominent market such as London is allegedly attracting landlords willing to push the regulations to the limit. The idea that this simple quirk in the regulations, involving continuous planning applications, nullifies the 90 day cap is bizarre to many people. However, the most surprising issue is why this has not been resolved yet and what the authorities plan to do about it?

The cost of renting property in London has risen dramatically over the years and while the property market is a little subdued at the moment, there are signs that more people are now switching to rental mode. So, the overall London market could struggle until we know what is happening with Brexit but it is unlikely we will see rental valuations softening. As a consequence, London and the wider UK property market are crying out for more long-term rental properties but the authorities, often talking the talk, are failing to walk the walk.

Conclusion

Many people may be surprised to learn of the 90 day cap but it does make perfect sense as the long-term rental market in the UK must always come before the short term letting sector. Quite how widespread the alleged abuse of the system is remains to be seen but surely the authorities can simply close the planning permission loophole. A loophole which effectively resets the 90 day cap, allowing some unscrupulous landlords to continuously rent their properties on a short-term basis on often premium rates.

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