Is Airbnb damaging Camden? This group thinks so

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Camden Federation of Private Tenants warns that is one of five areas responsible for over a million overnight stays in 2016

Greg Clark was Sajid Javid's predecessor as the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Governm

Greg Clark was Sajid Javid's predecessor as the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when the Deregulation Act 2015 was brought in - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Camden is one of the five London boroughs responsible for over a million overnight stays booked via online platform, according to a new report.

‘Airbnb - Impact and Outlook for London’ by Colliers International, Hotelschool The Hague and AirDNA has been cited by the Camden Federation of Private Tenants (CFPT) as evidence that Camden’s community is being eroded by those who sublet their homes, often illegally, and second homes as short-lets.

Robert Taylor, manager of CFPT said: “What our members tell us shows a very different picture from the “experience a city like a local” ideal you see being promoted on their websites, YouTube videos and TV adverts.”

The CFPT, which is based in Belsize Park, represents renters in Camden and argues that short term international letting has turned homes and communities into pseudo-hotels. This in turn, they argue, has exacerbated the scarcity of housing on the market and has pushed up local rents. The group also warns that illegally sublet apartments may not be up to health and safety standards.

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“One of the biggest problems of Camden’s private rented sector is the short-term nature of the accommodation being provided and the impact this has on the community. Websites like Airbnb and HomeAway make this problem worse by encouraging and facilitating even shorter-term letting,” added Mr Taylor.

The Deregulation Act 2015 reversed the rule that homeowners in the capital were prohibited from renting out premises for fewer than 90 nights per annum without planning permission.

The upper limit for rental is now 90 nights in a year, which the CFPT says is often exceeded. “This change coincided with the rise of Airbnb and similar websites which facilitate short lets internationally with ease, while taking minimum responsibility for the outcome,” it said.

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As a result of the changes, the CFPT argues that landlords seeking to make greater returns are converting their buy-to-let properties into more densely packed hotel-style lets and charging higher rents over shorter periods.

Since illegally subletting rooms without landlord consent is so easy, the CFPT warns that “rent-to-rent fiddles are becoming common as the unscrupulous realise that they can rent for themselves at one price and then sublet to others at a profit.”

This comes with its unique set of difficulties, with disturbances caused by holidaymakers spoiling local residential areas. In a study on short-term letting by LSE, half of respondents concluded that short-term lets had had a negative impact on their community.

“We believe local authorities need to be given more powers and resources to deal with this growing problem – as it’s not going to go away,” urged Mr Taylor.