Advertising curbs for Airbnb-style short lets welcomed by Labour

Labour is backing new guidelines which ban adverts which can be interpreted as encouraging landlords and home owners to flout restrictions on Airbnb-style short lets.

Labour London Assembly member Tom Copley has welcomed new advertising guidelines published by Transport for London which ban adverts on its network that promote the contravention of planning laws.

This follows a campaign in May urging a block on adverts from short-term lettings company Hostmaker which were alleged to have encouraged landlords to flout the 90-day annual limit for short-term lettings in London.

Hostmaker – which describes itself as “the world’s largest management company for Airbnb and more” – was in hot water in the spring when a series of advertisements on Transport for London appeared to be urging long-term landlords to switch from conventional AST-tenants to short lets booked through Airbnb and other similar platforms.

The advertisements led to both the Residential Landlords Association and the Labour Party asking London Mayor Sadiq Khan to remove the advertisements; there was also a petition against the ads raised by campaign group Generation Rent.

Airbnb itself issued a statement at the time of the controversy saying: “Airbnb was not involved with this campaign. The adverts do not reflect the spirit of hosting in London and we are pleased they are being removed. Airbnb has always been the only platform to help London hosts follow the rules by automatically limiting how often they can share their homes.”

Now new Transport for London specify that one indicator of problematic advertising content might include “references to holiday lets which do not appear to be limited in time, ambiguity about the type of letting, and suggestions of increased returns from non-standard lettings”.

Under current regulations introduced under the Deregulation Act 2015, it is illegal for landlords to rent out their homes in the capital for more than 90 nights a year as short-term lets, unless they obtain specific planning permission from their local council.

In April, Mayor Khan called upon the government to introduce a short-term letting registration system in the capital.

Copley, who is Labour’s London Assembly Housing Spokesperson, says: “In recent months, we have seen adverts across the TfL network encouraging landlords to flout the law when it comes to short term lets.

“In the midst of our housing crisis and with rents rising, this has been sending the wrong message to beleaguered Londoners living in a largely unfair and unforgiving private rented sector in urgent need of reform.

“The 90-day limit law on short-term lets offers the only current means of protection against the rising tide of properties in the capital being turned into permanent holiday homes, though it is incredibly difficult for local authorities to enforce.

“It is hugely positive to see TfL take action.”

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