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Mayor urged to ban Tube adverts encouraging people to break short-let laws

The Mayor of London has been urged to ban adverts on the Tube that encourage the breaking of short-term lettings law.

Tom Copley AM, Labour’s London Assembly housing spokesperson, has written to Sadiq Khan to urge a ban on advertisements on the Tube network which promote Hostmaker, the popular home-sharing management firm.

Copley argues that Hostmaker is encouraging landlords to break the law and flout the 90-day annual limit for short-term lettings in London (introduced in 2015 to help protect long-term renting and enforced by short-term lettings giant Airbnb in January 2017).

He added that allowing ‘unscrupulous property management companies’ to advertise on the Transport for London (TfL) network is ‘sending the wrong message’ when regulation should be tightened in the expanding home-sharing sector.

Current regulations, put in place under the Deregulation Act 2015, make it illegal for landlords to rent out their homes in London for more than 90 nights a year on short-term lets unless they obtain specific planning permission from their local council.

Despite this, a recent investigation by BBC News found that Hostmaker – as well as a number of other short-term lettings management firms – are offering services to enable landlords to evade the 90-day limit. 

In Copley’s letter to the Mayor, he argues that the cap is ‘vital’ in preventing a rising number of properties in the capital becoming ‘permanent holiday homes… at time of housing crisis in our city’.

At present, Hostmaker have posters advertising their services on display across the TfL network – but in his letter Copley points out that TfL’s own advertising policy states that they will not accept adverts on their estate that don’t comply with the law. 

In addition to banning advertisements from Hostmaker, Copley has also called upon Khan to go one step further and update TfL’s advertising policy to only permit adverts from short-term letting management companies if they’ve implemented a voluntary cap to enforce the 90-day limit.

Last month, Khan called upon the government to introduce a short-term letting registration system in the capital, following on from a report published by Tom Copley in January 2018, More BnB: Short-term Lets in London's Housing Crisis, which put forward a range of recommendations to tighten up regulation and enforcement measures in the rapidly growing home-sharing sector.

“The current 90-day limit law is a vital measure that is stemming the growing tide of London properties being turned into permanent holiday homes,” Copley said.

“With a burgeoning housing crisis in London, it is unacceptable that unscrupulous companies, such as Hostmaker, which encourage landlords to flout the law are being allowed to advertise on the TfL network.”

He added: “This is sending the wrong message when we should be focussing on tightening regulation in the expanding home-sharing sector in the capital to prevent long-term rented housing for Londoners being lost to holiday lets for tourists.”

“I hope the Mayor carefully considers the proposals in my letter for TfL to reject adverts from property management companies that have no interest in enforcing the law”.

Renaud Barnoin, general manager of Hostmaker London, meanwhile commented. “We are committed to complying with all rules and regulations in the markets we operate in and the London 90-day rule is no different. We provide furnished and managed housing for short, mid and long-term rental needs, and our flexible lettings solution is designed for hosts to make the most of short lets and switch to medium and long lets when the 90-day limit is reached, opening housing stock to local demand."

He added: "In a cosmopolitan city like London, there is always going to be a need for a range of housing and rental solutions. We were pleased to be one of the inaugural members of the APPG for Short Lets and are committed to continuing a dialogue with all parties to ensure the needs of a diverse housing and rental market are addressed.”

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