Posts with tag: short-term lets

What Airbnb hosts should consider before renting out a property

Published On: February 21, 2022 at 10:12 am


Categories: Lettings News

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Health and safety qualification service Phoenix Health & Safety has raised concerns about the lack of processes put in place by Airbnb hosts.

As such, Nick Higginson, CEO of Phoenix Health & Safety, has 5 tips for hosts to consider about their Airbnb.

1. Carbon Monoxide Alarms

“Carbon monoxide builds up in a property due to the burning of fuels. Properties that have traditional fireplaces or a woodburning stove are at a higher risk of causing carbon monoxide poisoning and without detectors, it could have serious consequences. It’s strongly advisable to have a CMD, not only for safety precautions but also not to deter potential guests.

“Furthermore, if your property has a fireplace, always ask guests to keep fresh air flowing throughout the property, and to crack the windows where necessary to avoid the build-up of carbon monoxide levels.”

2. Smoke alarms are required on every floor 

“Fire safety requirements can be hard to identify depending on the scale of the building. Some may require a fire exit to be clearly signposted whilst others may require carbon monoxide detectors. To ensure you have the correct information for the building’s specific needs it’s best to carry out a fire risk assessment.”

3. Furniture must be fire retardant

Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 is legislation that protects guests, ensuring they are in an environment where furnishings are not likely to become inflamed from close contact to products such as candles or cigarettes. If you ignore this essential safety check and there are incidents related to this, you could face prosecution.”

4. Annual gas safety checks are required 

“If you supply gas on the premises an annual gas safety check must be carried out every 12 months by a Gas Safe Registered engineer. If you fail to prove certification of the last 2 years in the appropriate checks, you can face legal prosecution for being negligible to your guests and putting lives at risk.

“Even if you are renting a room out in the property you occupy, you must be prepared to pay for Gas Safe certification.”

5. Electrical safety

“Electrical systems should be safe to use, and it is the host’s responsibility to make sure the required checks are made regularly. Things such as wiring, cooking appliances, sockets and light fittings should be checked tri-annually to ensure they are working correctly. There should also be safety checks on appliances supplied such as cookers and kettles.”

The Future of Airbnb hosting 

Nick concludes: “Over the coming years, we predict more processes and legislation will come into place to protect guests staying in Airbnb style accommodation to ensure that a similar health & safety standard is upheld to that of which you would expect in a registered hotel or hospitality accommodation.

“Whilst landlords/hosts are expected to create a safe environment with reliable reviews, it is a relatively untouched market for legislation. Hosts may consider health and safety training to ensure they are fully equipped.”

Westminster Council calls for stricter powers to tackle anti-social behaviour caused by short-term lets

Published On: February 10, 2022 at 9:50 am


Categories: Law News,Lettings News

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Westminster City Council is calling for more regulations and restrictions to target the owners of irresponsibly managed short-term let properties.

It says that short-term letting occurs on an industrial scale in the city, with more than 13,000 properties available on sites such as Airbnb and Almost one in three residents living in the West End, where there are the largest number of short-term let properties, told the council that irresponsible short-term letting is a problem in their area.

Westminster City Council has a full-time team currently investigating 2,000 breaches of short-term let rules. It reports an increase in complaints, ranging from noise, rowdy parties, serious overcrowding, dumping rubbish, and sex work occurring within nightly lets.

Police were called to a property in William Mews recently to shut down a party from a short-term let. A neighbour reported at the time: “There’s nothing desirable about having a commercial enterprise doing business in a quiet residential street that is now at my front door. I now find myself next to a ‘party house’ with our narrow street clogged by extra vehicles and fearing now to even answer my door.”

The local authority is keen to work with the Government on securing new powers to target owners. It will call for short-term letting companies to introduce registration schemes, bolstered with new powers to target owners and to fine them for irresponsible dumping of their rubbish.

Westminster City Council also wants greater powers given to local authorities to introduce exemptions for high impact areas as there are many places in the city which are unable to cope with the impact of short-term lets.

Cllr Rachael Robathan, Leader of Westminster City Council, comments: “We absolutely support responsible short-term letting and recognise that it is one of the most flexible and affordable options for people who want to visit central London – especially as Westminster City Council is working hard to bring tourism back to London. But I strongly believe that this must be done in such a way as to also protect the interests of residents.

“While some properties are let responsibly, a large number are not and these result in there being noise, illegal dumping, antisocial behaviour and, at its worst, criminal activity.

“Many short-term let properties are causing a strain on council resources and making life hell for many of our residents who constantly complain to us about the detrimental effect they are having. Our city inspectors work closely with the police to close unauthorised events held at short-term lets as quickly and as safely as possible. But ultimately, we need more restrictions and powers given to us as a local authority to tackle short-term letting anti-social behaviour impacting our communities.”

Short-term lets: government discussions could provide solution to sector problems

Published On: June 10, 2020 at 8:35 am


Categories: Lettings News

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The rental industry will be paying close attention to the government’s consideration of short-term lettings regulation this month, PayProp predicts.

The rental property platform has noted that this fast-growing part of the rental market has been hit particularly hard by COVID-19, but is expected to bounce back in the coming months. It speculates that this makes now a good time to consider the future of short-term lets.

At the end of May, the House of Commons Library published a 46-page briefing document discussing the calls for greater regulation of short-term lets. 

Airbnb, the best-known short-term lets platform, contributed to the briefing – and also plans to present a white paper of recommendations to the government later this month. 

The document reiterates the government’s position that it has no plans to ban the use of residential property for short-term lets.

It adds that further legislation would be overly bureaucratic and could act as a barrier to households letting out their properties on a short-term basis.

Instead, the government says it prefers a ‘non-regulatory approach’ to encourage improved standards and promote best practice in the industry.

Neil Cobbold, Group Chief Sales Officer at PayProp, highlights that whether this is workable will be a matter of intense interest and debate in coming months. Given the rapid growth of the sector before COVID-19, agreeing a clear approach now – whether regulatory or non-regulatory – may help to avoid tougher decisions later.

Huge growth leads to regulation questions

Before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, the short-term lets sector was growing quickly. ARLA Propertymark research found that the number of UK Airbnb listings reached 223,000 in 2018, up from 168,000 in 2017. This shows a rise of 33%.

By March 2020, there were 88,100 Airbnb listings in London alone – almost five times higher than the number recorded in April 2015 – according to analysis by campaign organisation Inside Airbnb.

Cobbold comments: “The rapid growth of the short-term lettings sector has encouraged calls that it should be regulated, which is understandable considering the level of regulation in the traditional private lettings market.

“Despite the government’s opposition to formal regulation, the briefing document indicates its acceptance that the future of short-term lets needs to be discussed, which is positive in itself.

“Debate around the questions raised in the briefing paper could lead to new solutions for some of the issues around the sector, while still allowing it to thrive.”

Short-term lets benefits and concerns revealed

The government’s briefing paper outlines both the benefits and concerns around the growth of short-term lets.

Benefits include the tourism boost short-term lettings can provide and the options for landlords or property owners with empty properties. However, the paper points out a lack of taxation compliance by short-term landlords, the impact on local housing markets, and health and safety issues.

Cobbold explains: “The issues raised by widespread short-term lets are well-documented. However, the financial benefits for local economies and landlords are hard to ignore.

“Finding a balance that recognises the value of short-term lets while minimising the impact of the issues they cause will be crucial to the sector’s long-term success.”

Key short-term lets considerations

Cobbold suggests that one of the key issues the government may confront this month is that there is currently no single source of regular data on the short-term lets market.

He explains: “Airbnb is the most used platform, but there are a range of other websites out there. Better and more consistent reporting of short-term lets data would make it easier to track growth and trends.”

Another issue that could be discussed is annual limits on short-term lets. Currently, properties in London can only be let on a short-term basis for 90 nights per year, while there are no restrictions across the rest of England.

Cobbold adds: “It’s been reported that the 90-day rule in London is flouted regularly, so its effectiveness needs to be reviewed. What’s more, as the popularity of short-term lets grows in other cities across the country, similar limits may need to be considered elsewhere.”

Finally, he says that the results of Airbnb’s consultations with stakeholders on a registration system for short-term rentals – as well as their planned white paper – could be crucial to the future of the industry.

He concludes: “Implemented effectively, a short-term lets registration system could help the sector to professionalise without introducing too much red tape.”

COVID-19 Causing Short-Term Rental Reversal

Published On: April 3, 2020 at 11:05 am


Categories: Lettings News

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Until very recently, there was an emerging trend of landlords switching to more profitable short-term lets, but with the recent coronavirus outbreak, many landlords are now looking to go back to long-term lets as demand plummets.

Back in February, we reported on the growing worry in the Private Rental Sector (PRS) that long-term rentals were becoming less profitable to landlords and causing them to switch to short-term holiday lets. This had the potential knock-on effect of reducing the supply of long term homes and driving up rental prices for tenants. 

In recent weeks, however, the demand for short term holiday lets has fallen through the floor as people have stopped travelling due to the Coronavirus outbreak. Landlords who currently let out holiday homes and short-term lets are switching to longer-term contracts according to the UK Short Term Accommodation Association (STAA).

The STAA polled its members and found since 13th March, most members have seen around 70% of their booking cancelled, with some reporting as high as 90%, with proportionate losses in income. 

Merilee Karr, chair of the STAA and CEO of UnderTheDoormat, said: “These findings are certainly not surprising but show that the short-term rental sector, that makes a massive contribution to the UK economy each year, is under severe threat. Bearing in mind that most of our members and their customers rely on tourism for between 70-100% of their revenue, the impact of the COVID-19 virus is potentially catastrophic.

“And, for those short-letting their home, the loss of both present and future income could be devastating. Thousands of people use the sharing economy to help pay their mortgage; for some, it is their primary source of income. Countless small entrepreneurs face going out of business, removing money from local economies both now, and in the future, when they will not be around to service demand once the virus has abated.

“On a more positive note, many homeowners, property management and hospitality companies have been making the best use of their assets by opening up properties for key workers. Schemes like NHS Homes, where properties are being offered to NHS staff as free accommodation show just how the short-term rental industry is pulling together to do their bit during this crisis.”

Short-term lets market growth is hurting renters looking for homes

Published On: February 24, 2020 at 9:22 am


Categories: Lettings News

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Finding access to long-term homes to rent is becoming more difficult for tenants, including many with children. The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) says this is due to Government policy driving landlords to move into the holiday lettings market.

This warning comes as new figures show that Airbnb accommodation now accounts for one in four property listings in some parts of the country. It was also recently that ARLA Propertymark published a study that found nearly half a million properties could be left unavailable for longer-term rent, as more landlords exit the market in favour of short-term lettings.

The RLA has been campaigning on this issue since 2016. The association believes that the main reason why it has escalated is the change in taxation for landlords, which is driving many out of the long-term sector.

The full impact of the restriction of mortgage interest relief to the basic rate of income tax applies from April, making many landlords significantly worse off or even unable to make a profit on their lettings. The RLA points out that this change does not apply to landlords with short-term lets, encouraging long-term landlords to move into that market.

Along with the 3% Stamp Duty levy on the purchase of extra housing and other measures affecting landlords’ confidence in the market, there is mounting evidence that this issue is causing a drop in supply, despite demand continuing to increase.

David Smith, Policy Director for the RLA, said: “Government policy is actively encouraging the growth of holiday homes at the expense of long-term homes to rent which many families need. This is completely counterproductive, making renting more expensive and undermining efforts to help tenants save for a house of their own.

“The Chancellor must use his Budget to give tenants a better deal by supporting good landlords to provide the homes to rent that they want to live in.”

Scotland short-term lets to see introduction of new regulation

Published On: January 13, 2020 at 9:32 am


Categories: Law News

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New methods to regulate short-term lets are to be introduced by the Scottish Government.

From spring 2021 local authorities will see an introduction of powers that will allow them to regulate short-term lets.

The Government has clarified that its aim is to enable councils to become better informed about what is happening in their area, improve safety and assist with the effective handling of complaints.

The licensing scheme will include a new mandatory safety requirement. This will cover every type of short-term let with the aim to ensure a safe, quality experience for visitors.

Ministers have committed to giving careful thought to how short-term lets will be taxed in the future.

Housing minister Kevin Stewart commented: “Short-term lets can offer people a flexible travel option and have contributed positively to Scotland’s tourism industry and local economies across the country.

“However, we know that in certain areas, particularly tourist hot spots, high numbers of short-term lets are causing problems and often make it harder for people to find homes to live in.

“That is why we are empowering local authorities to implement a system that works for their area. By giving councils the power to set conditions around short-term lets licences and put in place planning control areas to tackle hot spots, communities across Scotland will be able to decide what is best for them and their local economy.

“Everybody wants visitors, hosts, neighbours and local residents to be safe. That is why the licensing scheme includes a safety element which will be mandatory across Scotland for all short-term lets. Separately, local authorities will be given discretion to include further conditions to help tackle littering or overcrowding of properties.

“These powers will allow local authorities to ensure a safe, quality experience for visitors, whilst protecting the interests of local communities.”

David Cox, Chief Executive of ARLA Propertymark, has also responded to this news: “It’s positive to see that the Scottish government are taking steps to regulate short term lets. 

“In some urban areas, the supply of local housing is under intense pressure and as the private rental sector becomes increasingly regulated, landlords are moving further towards the less regulated short-term letting space which further reduces this supply. This can also result in lower quality accommodation for tenants and overall creates a vastly uneven playing field.

“By further regulating the sector, local authorities will be able to control the number of short term lets in Scotland, but also ensure that effective health and safety requirements are put in place to protect those seeking a short term let.”