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Move to get online data by Tower Hamlets on who's letting out their homes to tourists

PUBLISHED: 13:10 03 May 2019 | UPDATED: 13:26 03 May 2019

Plea to government for access to holiday lettings online data. Picture: Mike Brooke

Plea to government for access to holiday lettings online data. Picture: Mike Brooke

Mike Brooke

Tougher controls on short-term holiday lettings are being called for by Tower Hamlets Council to stop landlords and home owners dodging round the law.

Mayor John Biggs... reflecting on move to get online data about who's renting out their homes for holiday lets. Picture: Rehan JamilMayor John Biggs... reflecting on move to get online data about who's renting out their homes for holiday lets. Picture: Rehan Jamil

Mayor John Biggs has signed a letter with other local authority leaders and the mayor of London calling on the Housing Secretary to change regulations for short term property lettings.

The law at the moment allows properties to be let for a maximum of 90 days, but is difficult to enforce if the letting period is exceeded.

“We need to ensure residential properties cannot be turned into what are essentially 'hotels',” mayor Biggs said. “Short term lets can be a way for households to earn some extra money, but we need to have balance. Current legislation is simply not working in practice.”

The letter he signed jointly with the mayor of Hackney, five other council leaders and the mayor of London, calls on state secretary James Brokenshire to compel all short-term letting platforms to share information so that councils can enforce the 90 day limit.

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One online lettings platform, Airbnb, has voluntarily implemented such checks, showing 4,500 Tower Hamlets homes were let in 2015 alone, which nearly doubled by 2017.

It listed 3,800 entire homes currently on short-term rent, more than three per cent of the East End's 126,000 housing properties, with another 3,700 single rooms also available—many in flats that only have rooms let on a short term basis.

Deputy mayor Sirajul Islam...  Deputy mayor Sirajul Islam... "We need lettings platforms data to regulate housing sector." Picture: Mike Brooke

But other online platforms have refused to share their data a with local authorities, despite requests by the Mayor of London.

Tower Hamlets deputy mayor Sirajul Islam, the cabinet member for housing, said: “We need all short-term letting platforms to provide data that we can use to regulate this growing housing sector.”

The council ironically had previously asked the government to allow an exemption to “those parts of the East End most severely affected by the growth of short-term letting”, allowing people to let out their homes without having to register. But the move was rejected by Whitehall.

The letter to the Housing minister points out that local authorities “have found the law difficult to enforce, with the lack of accessible data on lettings”.

The local authorities believe “the time is right” to register short-term lettings by anyone wanting to let out their property for less than 90 days a year.

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