The use of sites like Air B&B have doubled over the last year, in London over 2million guests used Air B and B in 2017, up 49% on 2016! For the homeowner it is some additional income; for the renter it is often cheaper and more comfortable than a hotel. The main issue is that those renting these properties are often not aware of the regulations they should be following and inadvertently get themselves into trouble. The key issues which have been highlighted in recent years are:
- Beaching Planning Regulations: A property cannot be let for more than 90 days in a year without planning permission, this would be classed as a development and the owner can be served with a substantial fine.
- Safety Issues: Many owners using Air B&B are unaware that they need to abide by the regulations set for rental properties, these include fire safety; gas and electric safety and carbon monoxide safety regulations. If these safety measure are not in place and the occupant suffers in a fire the homeowner would be held liable.
- Beach of Lease: Those who own a leasehold property may not be aware that their lease precludes them from letting the property. The other reason the freeholder could take you to court is for anti-social behavior or nuisance caused by the high turnover of occupants. Due to such problems many freeholders have now introduced new regulations preventing the owners from using the property for short-term lets.
- Illegal Sub-Letting: The final issue which the property owner may not been aware of is the number of tenants who are using hosting sites to sub-let their property and make a profit. Most hosting sites do not currently require proof of ownership; therefore, it is easy for a tenant to list the property. Often owners only find out when local residents complain about noise or they come across the advert for their property online. Securing vacant possession can be costly and time consuming.
What can be done about these issues? The hosting sites should require proof of ownership and many are now restricting the use of the site to the 90 days per year limit. The government are considering setting up a database, requiring those looking to let their property on a short-term basis to register before doing so. The problem with this is it will take time for local councils to set up teams to enforce this and funding within local councils is as we know already strained.