London is the only city in the United Kingdom subject to a 90 Day Rule for its short-term let properties, such as those on the Airbnb platform. Despite Airbnb being a popular business model for major cities around the globe, this stipulation has made London’s market slightly frustrating. There are bound to be multiple legally questionable methods that people get around the rule, but it is better to stick to the law to avoid complete closure and further penalty. This article aims to answer why London has been singled out above other cities of potential, and whether or not there are ways to circumvent this ruling.
The London Airbnb 90 Day Rule
The first section will focus on the intricate details of the 90 Day rule, so let’s first take a look at the primary defining features.
What is it?
The 90 Day Rule dictates that no single property (in any context, not restricted to Airbnb), may be let for any more than 90 days or nights. There is no getting around it with technicalities as 90 days refers to both consecutive and random date bookings too. When the limit has been reached, your bookings will be closed by the Airbnb platform, unless you have legal proof to support further letting.
Why Was it Introduced?
It was introduced first in 2016-2017 to try and regulate the housing market in inner and outer city boroughs. London has a vast population, and housing is in high demand, so short-term lets can be detrimental to this and even act to drive house prices higher. The rules of short-term letting in London are bound by multiple regulations, as explained here by Upper Key, so it stands to reason that Airbnb should be on board with this.
The Supportive Arguments
There are arguments for and against. The main supportive arguments centre around residents of the city. The notion that their housing needs should surpass those of people wishing to visit is not an old one, nor an irrelevant one. There are people struggling to secure rental accommodation for themselves or their families, so a continuous flouting of housing regulations would be a real blow to local culture. Any major city with a lot of residents needs to focus on enabling quality of living and access to homes, and that is what this policy allows for. To what extent the impact is, no one is yet sure but there is a definite correlation between rising house prices, scarce findings on the rental market, and houses being bought up for the purposes of short-term holiday lets.
The Opposing Arguments
As with any argument, there are opposing opinions too. This discussion focuses on the unfairness of the aforementioned policy in terms of how it penalizes homeowners who work away from home for more than 90 days a year, and Airbnb owners in London compared to other major global cities. There is a call for more regulation in other areas of concern such as host safety, vetting, and suitability. Many safety issues have been flagged as people take issue with the host’s viability with regards to being suitable and running their business fairly as per the guidance. This can’t always be avoided, but it is an ongoing topic of discussion nonetheless.
If you break the rules, you can be liable for a £20,000 fine. You will be removed from the Airbnb system and you won’t be allowed to return for a significant period. You essentially blacklist your profile around rule disregard and, therefore, endanger your business and livelihood.
How to get around Airbnb 90 day rule in London
There are a few things to be done that are all above board and legal. There are also lots of options to avoid such as multiple, false lettings under pseudonyms and spread out over different platforms on different dates. These methods are essentially fraudulent and will be met with harsh punishment. If you are really trying to find a way around the 90 day rule, the better option might be to focus your Airbnb business in a different city entirely as this is the only true, legal route to providing year-long income as a result of this venture.
Planning Permission Application: You can apply to the council for planning permission to make your property expand on the 90 day restriction. There are various regulations in place as per each local council, so if this really is an issue for you, it is worth getting in touch with your borough and seeing what hoops there are to jump through to complete the process.
Changing to medium-term lets: After a short-term listing has run its course, changing it to a medium-term let can rectify the problem. Yet this is legally a grey area, so tread carefully so as to not forfeit the right to host altogether.
Corporate let options: There are different restrictions on corporate lets, so this is an avenue worth exploring. London is a hub for business people, so it stands to reason then that there will be a letting opportunity in this area. Companies often look for committed landlords to house their employees.
General Rules of Airbnb in London
Aside from the 90 day rule as imposed by the local government, Airbnb owners in London have to abide by all the regular rules too. It would be beneficial to engage with a management platform, says Upper Key, to help you along with the journey. The key takeaways are as follows:
Even if you have multiple properties, the 90 day rule applies to every single one under your control and ownership. Each home or flat can only be let for 90 days in the area on a short-term basis.
Every Airbnb place has to comply with building regulations, fire safety protocols, electrical checks, and other factors that ensure guest safety too.
There must be clear, transparent communication between host and guest about expectations, access, and engagement to avoid unlawful circumstances occurring.
Why London is a Successful City for Airbnb
There are lots of reasons why the Airbnb model works extremely well in the London area.
It attracts visitors in high volumes in every season. These visitors all need a place to stay and rest and will all likely book accommodation close to the inner city and attractions.
Tourists coming to London are attracted not solely by the cosmetic tourist attractions, but the authentic traditional culture too. Staying in a real London home will only bolster the experience and increase the aesthetic value of the trip.
Airbnb is often more attractive in terms of cost for short-term weekend visits over hotels. Hotels are often extremely expensive, especially during peak times. While Airbnb prices do fluctuate in line with seasonal considerations, they still don’t reach the peak of what hotels may charge.
People are always looking to invest in major city properties. This means that the market is lucrative. There are investors waiting in the wings and sitting on properties to expand their own capital and revenue. These investments are bound to boost the local economy in positive channels alongside all the negative arguments too.
London is an economic centre and business-focussed city. There are hundreds of offices, workers, and companies that thrive here. Therefore, the call for international commerce travel is very relevant. Business people on long trips can benefit from home comforts by opting for Airbnb and it has proven a popular platform in this context.
How long can I rent my flat on Airbnb in London?
According to current regulations, the maximum reservation length for Airbnb in London is capped at 90 days. These can either be consecutive or spaced out days/nights, but the 90 day limit can only be changed if planning permission for a different speculation is confirmed and secured. This has to go through the local council.
Is Airbnb profitable in London?
Yes. Airbnb sees a strong subscription to the platform in the London area. London is a major tourist city and, therefore, there are always people looking for a place to stay on their travels. The big appeal of platforms like this is the authenticity factor, and a city like London can provide this in excess.
Do London Airbnb owners need a license?
Yes. All Airbnb business owners in London need a license to run their properties legally. If you are found to be engaging with the business model without a license, you will be removed and fined.
London Airbnb Rules
The 90 Day Rule exists for a good reason. Yet, people are still frustrated by its existence. Compared to other cities where there are no limits or curbs on short-term lets, the fact that it exists in one of the major tourist hotspots in the world is something to argue about. Yet, home-focused socio-economic factors always have to be taken into account, and London's policy is good at doing what works for its residents as well as external tourism.