Understanding London’s Short-Term Rentals Regulation

Keycafe Team
May 7, 2019 · 6 min read

On April 23rd of 2019, the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, called for improved regulation of short-term rentals for the city of London. Khan mentioned his desire to develop and implement a registration system for short-term rentals in order to ensure local councils can better enforce regulation, and requested that online short-term rental companies follow Airbnb’s cooperative example. In a press release, Airbnb responded in support of the mayor’s call for better regulation through a registration system, highlighting their continuous cooperation with the city of London.

While many cities around Europe and North America have had contentious dealings in defining, establishing, and enforcing their short-term rental accommodation regulation, London has had a short and agreeable history regulating Airbnb and other short-term rentals. London modified its legislation in 2015, and since then hasn’t made further changes to how short-term rentals go about their business in the capital city. Two years later at the start of 2017, Airbnb started directly enforcing regulation through their platform, resulting in a more significant shift to how Londoners were using the short-term rental service. Here is what you need to know about short-term rental hosting in London.

Greater London Short-Term Rental Regulations Summary

  • You can short-term rent your entire home for 90 days of the calendar year without a permit.
  • You can short-term renting your entire home for more than 90 days, you must receive a planning permit and submit Airbnb’s 90-day limit exemption form.
  • There is no limit to the number of days you can rent out a portion of your home during a calendar year as long as you are living there at the same time.
  • If you are a tenant, you must have permission from your landlord to short-term rent.
  • You are liable to pay council tax in its entirety if you are short-term renting, even if you are currently exempt or have a council tax discount.

London’s Short-Term Rental Regulation

In 2015, the Deregulation Act was introduced in order to provide clear regulation for the short-term rental space in greater London. The regulation introduced the exception that allows for those hosting short-term rentals for less than 90 days a year, to be exempt from obtaining a planning permit. Hosts interested in continuing to offer their entire home for short-term rental after the 90 days must apply for a planning permit from their local government. Long-term renters are allowed to host short-term rentals, however they must have permission from their landlord before doing so.

It’s important to note that the 90-day limit is only on entire home listings, and that one can rent out a private room to a short-term renter for longer than 90 days without having to obtain a planning permit. Once an entire-home has been booked for 90 days of a year, the home-owners can obtain the planning permit from the city, seek out longer-term renters, or rent out only a portion of the home. It is advised that those who know they will be short-term renting their home for more than 90 days a year apply immediately for their planning permit, as it takes several weeks to be potentially approved and to receive the permit.

In January of 2017 Airbnb started directly enforcing the 90-day limit through their platform. The home-sharing company included a 90-day counter to keep track of the total number of nights that your entire home has been booked for. Once you reach the 90-day limit, Airbnb automatically prevents you from further booking your entire home for any visits until you have a planning permit and you submit the 90-day limit exemption form. Without the permit, you’ll still be able to rent out your entire home for stays that are longer than 90 days.

Aside from the 90-day limit, the other key part of the regulation around short-term rentals in greater London is that a host must be liable to pay council tax for the nights they rent their homes out for. This includes people who have a discount on their council tax or are exempt from council tax. If you have booked guests for short-term accommodation and don’t pay or have reduced council tax, make sure to contact your local government about the council tax payments you are liable for.

Applying for Exemption from the 90-Day Limit

If you want to exceed the 90 day limit, you must obtain a planning permit (aka Temporary Sleeping Accommodation) from your local council. After obtaining a planning permit you’ll need to complete Airbnb’s Night Limit Exemption form in order to lift Airbnb’s automatic restriction. When completing this form you’ll need to provide links to your Airbnb profile and listing, specify the borough of your listing’s location, and confirm that you have the required permission by ticking a box on the submission form.

While the form doesn’t require any proof of your planning permit, you do have to tick a box confirming that you certify the information you’ve entered on the form is accurate, and that you give consent to Airbnb Ireland to disclose any and all of the information you provide on the form to local authorities, government bodies and regulatory or law enforcement authorities and courts.

Penalties

Operating an entire home short-term rental in greater London for more than 90 days without planning permission is considered an unauthorised change of use. This could result in a fine of up to £20,000, along with being found guilty for not complying with an Enforcement Notice. London residents are able to report properties being used for short-term renting while breaching legislation through the city’s Planning Enforcement investigation form.

The Changing of London’s Short-Term Accommodation Regulation

2015’s Deregulation Act was largely thanks to the work of Inline Policy, a consultancy company which was commissioned by onefinestay to secure a change in UK law that would allow for easier short-term rentals in London. Inline Policy also had a key role in creating the STAA (Short Term Accommodation Association), which seeks to ensure greater cooperation amongst the major short-term accommodation players in order to better tackle common industry challenges. Along with pushing for better regulation, the STAA have worked with the City of Westminster to create the Considerate Nightly Letting Charter, which is a helpful guide for those seeking to provide short-term accommodation in the city of Westminster.

In a blog post published on April 3rd, 2019, Inline Policy’s founder, Shomik Panda, wrote about the next phase of regulatory challenges facing short-term rentals. Panda writes about the current state of the short-term accommodation sector, along with his hopes and expectations for regulation as the industry moves forward. He outlines a need for clear separation between amateur and commercial short-term renting activity, that home-sharing platforms should share data with authorities where illegal activity has occurred, and that governments may need the help of additional oversight like registration schemes in order to successfully operate and prosecute those breaking the law.

Useful Links Related to London Short-Term Rentals

While this article covers a lot of information, it’s possible you might have some questions regarding short-term rental regulations in London. Below is a list of helpful links for you to find more information.

Airbnb - London FAQs: https://www.airbnb.com/help/article/1340/i-rent-out-my-home-in-london--what-short-term-rental-laws-apply

Airbnb - Responsible Hosting in the United Kingdom: https://www.airbnb.ca/help/article/1379/responsible-hosting-in-the-united-kingdom

Deregulation Act 2015 PDF: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2015/20/pdfs/ukpga_20150020_en.pdf

City of London - Short-Term Letting: https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/services/environment-and-planning/planning/Pages/Short-term-letting.aspx

England Planning Applications Portal: https://www.planningportal.co.uk/applications

Airbnb - London Night Limit Exemption Form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScnhnPsuu6ZJq1pnc-rIFjdDJy9qQcb6IfKbAESE39TrUK5Lw/viewform

UK Government — Renting Out Your Property: https://www.gov.uk/renting-out-a-property/paying-tax

UK Short-Term Accommodation Association (STAA): https://www.ukstaa.org

Westminster City Council - Considerate Nightly Letting: https://www.westminster.gov.uk/sites/default/files/considerate_nightly_letting_charter.pdf

Finder - London Airbnb Statistics: https://www.finder.com/uk/london-airbnb-statistics

Airbnb - London Boroughs Statistics: https://www.airbnbcitizen.com/united-kingdom/a-look-at-data-across-london/

We cannot guarantee the accuracy of the regulations discussed in this article. Regulations often change on a regular basis, and we advise you to research the current regulations for your location. While we do our best to keep the information updated, if you find an error, omission, or something that needs an update, please let us know.

Keycafe

A journey towards smarter cities

Keycafe Team

Written by

Keycafe is a property access management and key exchange service based in Vancouver, Canada. For more information, visit our website at www.keycafe.com.

Keycafe

Keycafe

A journey towards smarter cities

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