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Airbnb management firms caught suggesting how to break short-term lets limits

Two leading companies that help landlords manage their short-term lets in London tell reporter how to circumvent rules.

Nigel Lewis

Airbnb image

Several leading Airbnb management platforms have been caught on camera explaining how they can help landlords game-play the UK’s short-term lettings limits.

A BBC investigative journalist secretly filmed staff from several such firms including Hostmaker and Cityrelay telling an undercover reporter how to circumvent the rules.

These stipulate that a property cannot be rented out via platforms such as Airbnb for more than 90 days a year unless they have secured planning permission to do so.

But the firms were filmed explaining how listings on Airbnb can be ‘juggled’ to hide how many days a property has been rented out by de-listing them and then ‘starting from scratch again’.

This resets the clock that Airbnb uses to show how many days a property has been rented out for during any given year.

200 days’ rental

Another tactic revealed is to advertise properties on different short-let sites as well as Airbnb, therefore hiding the true number of days that a property is been let out. One company suggested landlords can achieve up to 200 days’ rental a year this way.

The practices uncovered by the BBC investigation have been condemned by both the Residential Landlords Association, while housing campaigner and MP Karen Buck has described the revelations as both ‘shocking’, ‘deeply dispiriting’. She says it ‘undermines everything we were told about how short-let accommodation would work’.

Hostmaker told the BBC it was complying with regulations and would undertake an internal investigation, while Cityrelay said it advises landlords they will need to get planning permission for more than 90 days’ rentals.

February 25, 2019

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