Airbnb is an online platform that allows people to list their properties as holiday lettings to people in over 190 countries. It is a particularly popular way of booking accommodation in the heart of most major European cities, allowing patrons more freedom and flexibility than is afforded in traditional accommodation options, such as expensive hotels. This has made city centre apartments an even greater commodity, with many owners / occupiers rushing to list their property on the site.
In London alone there was a listings increase of 27% on Airbnb between February and June 2016, however, with all these additional properties being added to the site, this has been accompanied by concerns that these listings are having an adverse impact on the long-term rental market. It can be much more lucrative for a Landlord to convert their property to a short-term rental unit, however it is important to keep abreast on the legal regulations surrounding short-term lets.
On 26 May 2015 s44 and s45 of the Deregulation Act 2015 (“Act”) came in to force, which relaxes the planning permission requirements for short term lets in the Greater London Area. On the proviso that the use of the temporary sleeping accommodation does not exceed 90 nights per calendar year and the Landlord is liable for the council tax, homeowners in London can use their residential premises as temporary sleeping accommodation, without having to obtain planning permission for this change of use.
Additionally, this also means that if the property is let out for more than 90 nights per calendar year, planning permission for the change of use would be required. In order to uphold and also enforce current laws regulating the short-term rental market Airbnb have accordingly introduced a system from 1 January 2017, which limits the listing of entire homes in the Greater London area to 90 nights per calendar year, unless the appropriate planning permission is obtained.
Airbnb hosts must also be aware that the 90 night limit includes short-term lets arranged through other home sharing services. If you breach this limit, without having the appropriate consents, your local authority may take enforcement action against you for being in breach of the planning control - this could involve a criminal conviction and a fine.
This new automatic delisting system is just the beginning of regulation in this area, and we can be sure of more regulations to come, as legislators attempt to meet the legislative needs for this constantly evolving and expanding industry.