Short term letting is very common in the London market. In areas popular with tourists and business people there is a substantial drive for landlords to let property on short lets which allow for a higher return on their investment.
However within Greater London short letting is restricted. This restriction is applied through the Greater London Council (General Powers) Act 1973. This Act provides that any occupation of a property for money for less than 90 nights constitutes a material change of use for planning purposes. Therefore the restriction is applied through the planning system.
This may all be about to change. An amendment being proposed to the Deregulation Bill will permit the Secretary of State to make an order to change the 1973 Act to hold that short lets are no longer a material change of use. This would end the current situation where a large number of properties are let on short-term tenancies with everyone looking over their shoulder for the approach of a local authority planning enforcement officer.
Before anyone gets too excited it should be noted that the amendement does not in itself actually change the 1973 Act. The passing of this amendment and the Deregulation Bill will not actually change the current position. There must be a separate order passed to actually make a change. It is also worth noting that there is a power for the Secretary of State to make an order only disapplying the restriction in some areas or for certain types of property and may also allow for individual local authorities to reapply the restriction much as they have done with planning restrictions for HMOs. It is likely that several local authorities will push to either have the restriction retained in their area or for them to be allowed to reimpose it themselves and they will then promptly do so.
The amendment can be found here at page 10015.