How the Rise of Short Lets is Affecting London’s Property Market

The majority of people using short lets in London are on business trips or holiday breaks and usually pass by unnoticed. However, there is a growing concern that a sharp increase in short-term leases is having a detrimental effect on the property market.

Nightly Lets

Originally, there was a strict code of practice where landlords had to seek planning permission from the local authority before renting out properties for short stays of up to six months. In 2015, the regulations were revised, allowing private homeowners to rent out their properties as short-term lets, also termed as nightly lets, where they could earn a rental income while on their own holidays for a maximum of ninety days each year. The policy directly affects landlords in general and while many adhere to the rules, there are others including tenants who sub-let, deliberately flouting them. But how does their behaviour affect the London property market?

Short-Term Disruptions

The main grievances of homeowners in areas such as Fulham and Paddington is the disruptive behaviour of many of the short-term tenants. Properties are being rented out at rates that are considerably cheaper than local hotels or those let by authorised letting agencies. Such short lets are attracting large numbers of visitors who arrive at untimely hours, are continually noisy and by their departure have caused damage to the property and the surrounding area, leaving litter and debris behind them. Consequently, properties are being left in a poor state of repair which is having a negative effect on the local housing market.

Irresponsible Landlords

Unscrupulous leasehold landlords are in breach of their own agreements with local authorities. By the terms of their own leases, they are only allowed to rent out properties as residential dwellings, yet many are treating them like hotels. Furthermore, they are forbidden to cause disturbances to neighbouring properties. Their actions are depriving many areas such as Kensington and Battersea of much-needed housing stock and has a detrimental effect on the community spirit of the boroughs.

National Room Sizes

Rogue landlords are notorious for renting out properties with tiny partitioned bedrooms or they include several bunk beds in order to maximise their earning potential from visitors on short lets. In a move to combat these abuses, legislation was introduced regarding room sizes which stated that rooms in multiple occupancy dwellings had to be a minimum of 70 square feet (6.52 square metres). The size also applied to the space permitted per person or couple to stop the inclusion of bunk beds. However, enforcing the rules is difficult unless other residents officially complain.

Responsible Landlords and Short Lets

Typically, there are a multitude of websites with a worldwide audience where irresponsible landlords can advertise their properties as short-term holiday lets allowing them to fill their vacancies quickly and easily. Homeowners in central and west London districts such as Earls Court and St John’s Wood, are understandably concerned about the negative impact on the housing market by the general state of disrepair of over-crowded, short let properties. The growth of irresponsible landlords letting rooms over the internet has been surprisingly rapid. However, the problem is not exclusively confined to London. Berlin, Barcelona and New York have been driven to banning short lets altogether. Lettings agencies who specialise in short-term leases adhere to strict guidelines to safeguard their tenants and clients and to protect the value of the properties in the neighbourhood. If short lets in London were allowed only through responsible agencies, the London property market would have nothing to fear.

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