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Short Term Letting - Concern for Marylebone Residents

Short Term Letting - Concern for Marylebone Residents

There is an issue that is becoming an increasing concern for residents, not just in Marylebone but in all parts of Central London and it is one of short term letting. It is illegal, in most circumstances, in Westminster at present to let out a property for under 3 months, but in spite of this it is still a problem. Westminster Council alone takes an average of about 500 enforcement actions a year, and it is already a difficult and expensive task. However there is a bill going through Parliament at present that is likely to make things a lot worse. Clause 21 of the Deregulations Bill enables the Secretary of State to make regulations to give London residents "more of the freedoms enjoyed in other parts of the country", more specifically the freedom to let property out for very short periods, but it is doubtful that most Londoners will want these particular freedoms when their true consequences are understood.

The London property market's problems at the moment are hardly caused by an unnecessary fettering of its rental market. A different regime was put in place for London from the rest of the country 40 years ago, enabling the banning of short term lets and there was a good reason for it then, and an equally good reason for it now. Then there was an acute housing shortage, and there is again now. Short term lets act directly to remove potential housing stock from long term tenants because short term letting to visitors is a more commercially attractive option.

The Government's proposed rule change under Clause 21 is likely to make it even more difficult and even more expensive for local authorities to enforce rules against short term letting. They will have to demonstrate not that a property is being let short term, but that it is in habitual short-term use, which is a much more difficult and higher bar to overcome, and it is likely to lead to a burden on council taxes and resources.

There is a contradiction here, as on the one hand the government states that they are trying to ensure that speculators are not able to buy homes meant for Londoners and rent them out as short-term lets and at the same time it is endeavouring to pass a piece of legislation that enables just that. If this goes through how many respectable landlords are going to question renting out their property for, say, £500 a week when they could get upwards of £2000 a week through legally permitted short lets? There can only be one consequence, there will be far fewer long term lets on the market.

Like much harmful legislation the basis of it may be well intentioned as part of an overall package of deregulation, but it is likely to have a number of unintended consequences. Not only will it put more pressure on London's private rental market at the very time when rents are already at all time highs by creating a more expensive and smaller rental stock but it will have further serious repercussions; it will create more nuisance to long term residents, from rubbish, noise and anti-social behaviour; it will result in compromised security in large blocks and the further erosion of the long term community in our area; finally it will result in more expense to Westminster in trying to enforce a more complicated regime which will effect us all in service cutbacks in this area or elsewhere.

Clearly then any new regulations made under Clause 21 must be carefully considered and proper consultation should have been undertaken to ensure that the effects of this measure would be mitigated in all our central London boroughs. Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea, Camden and Islington, backed by nearly every amenity and neighbourhood association within these boroughs, have all expressed extremely strong reservations about the consequences but so far they have not been listened to.

Further, our Westminster MP's, Mark Field and Karen Buck have campaigned long and hard on this subject and warned of the potential problems. So far they have not been listened to. Now all who are concerned about this should ensure that they write to their local MP or the Housing Minister Kris Hopkins to express concern over the damage that this piece of legislation, soon now to become law, could cause in the hope that if sufficient numbers protest the Secretary of State will listen and act on the subject before it is too late.

You can contact your local MP

Mark Field MP

Parliamentary
House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
Tel: 020 7219 8155
Fax: 020 7219 1980
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Constituency
90 Ebury Street, London, SW1W 9QD
Tel: 020 7730 8181
Fax: 020 7730 4520
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Karen Buck MP

Parliamentary
House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
Tel: 020 7219 3000
Fax: 020 7219 3664
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Constituency
The Labour Party, 4G Shirland Mews, London, W9 3DY
Tel: 020 8968 7999
Fax: 020 8960 0150

Kris Hopkins MP - Housing Minister

Parliamentary
House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
Tel: 020 7219 3000
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Departmental
Department for Communities and Local Government, Eland House, Bressenden Place, London, SW1E 5DU
Tel: 030 3444 0000
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Wednesday, 22 November 2017

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