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Mastering Airbnb's 90-Day Rule: Tips & Strategies for Hosts

Back in December 2016, a 90-days lettings limit was introduced in London by Airbnb to help with regulation of the sharing economy. The move was appreciated by locals, and today, the booking platform will automatically cap Airbnb bookings to ninety days per year for any properties that have not obtained a planning permit for short-letting through their local borough council.

Unless you can confirm that you have obtained the necessary paperwork to let your property on the short-term rental market, Airbnb will automatically restrict the number of occupied nights per year to ninety days. Once you have reached that limit, Airbnb will automatically close your booking capacity until the calendar year restarts. The limit will apply whether the occupied days are consecutive or spread out across several months.

Limits worldwide

Why Is There a Limit?

The 90 day holiday let rule currently only applies to London properties, although there has been some discussions regarding extending it to other UK cities. Property owners who do not abide by the Airbnb 90 day limit in London may be fined up to £20k. Prior to the rule being put in place, landlords were technically required to apply for planning permission if they wanted to turn their long-term rental properties into short-term lets.

However, London recognised the worldwide shift in how people were travelling and experiencing cities, along with the economic benefits that it would provide citizens. Because of this, deregulation was put in place to relax the previous rules, allowing for short-term lets without planning permission for up to ninety days per year..

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How to Comply With the Regulation

If you have an Airbnb in London, then you may be wondering how to get around Airbnb 90 day rule. The truth is that the Airbnb 90 day rule is a legal requirement, so if you want to let your Airbnb property for more than the ninety day limit then you will need to apply for planning permission to do so from your local council. There are a few options.

The first option is to rent out your Airbnb as a short-term let on the platform and change it to a medium- or long-term rental property once you have reached the ninety-day limit. Airbnb will not take your listing down if you change it to a rental for 90+ days, and you will also be fully compliant with the regulations.

However, on the downside, this option can make it harder for you to find guests as not everybody visiting London will want to book a stay of more than ninety days on the site. However, there are more appropriate sites that you may want to switch to using to find longer-term guests once you have reached the ninety day limit.

What Does the Limit Apply To?

The 90 day rule Airbnb London applies to ‘whole property’ listings in the Greater London area, however, it also applies if you are leasing out one room in a property. If you want to extend beyond ninety days for short-term lets, then you will need to apply for a change in the planning permission to include short-term or holiday lets.

Once you have obtained this permission from the local council, you will then need to send proof of it to Airbnb, which will allow your property to be booked for more than the ninety-day limit on the platform.

Illustration showing the process of obtaining planning permission for short-term lets on Airbnb in London
Obtain planning permission for short-term lets to extend beyond the 90-day limit on Airbnb.

Can You Get Around the 90-Day Rule?

Since it is up to councils to enforce these restrictions, you may consider how to get around the Airbnb 90-day rule. Some landlords feel that the risk is worth taking and many continue to short-let their property for longer than the limit of ninety days without getting permission.

Since Airbnb is currently the only short let listing platform that automatically limits the number of days that the property can be booked, there is nothing stopping landlords from using different short-term listing sites.

However, breaking the regulations comes at your own risk, and there are large fines for landlords who are caught doing so, although the industry is largely unregulated, and it is difficult to say exactly how likely it is that a landlord would be caught for breaking the rules. Ultimately, however, the best way to get around the limit is to err on the side of caution and apply for permission from the council.

Illustration showing alternative short-term listing platforms as an option to avoid Airbnb's 90-day limit
Some landlords may choose to exceed the 90-day limit on Airbnb, risking fines for breaking the rules.

Can you sign to 90 day rule due to local authorities

Short Let Management Companies

You may want to consider working with a short-let management company like UpperKey. However, even if you do decide to take this route, it’s important to bear in mind that many short-term let management companies do not state that they offer this tactic as a part of their service, and many promise high occupancy rates through short-term lets. Bear in mind that as the landlord, it is your responsibility rather than that of the property management company to ensure that your property meets regulations.

The one exception to this would be a guaranteed rental scheme, in which case the property management company becomes a third party ‘tenant’ and takes all responsibility for regulations while making rental payments to you, the landlord, regardless of if the property is occupied. However, these schemes are typically for long-term rentals rather than short-term lets.

Illustration showing a landlord exploring the possibility of guaranteed rental schemes for their property
Consider partnering with a short-let management company like UpperKey for expert assistance.

Working With a Property Manager

Most reputable short-term property management companies like UpperKey will require you to confirm that you have permission to short-term let, passing the liability on to you if it is found that the property does not have adequate permission. Most will not encourage you to break the law, but it is worth noting that some lack clarity in terms of these regulations and where you stand as a client.

Before hiring a short-term let management company, it is a good idea to speak to them in depth about how they work with the 90 day rule. This is something that short-term property managers should take seriously, so be wary if a property manager appears to brush it off.

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Getting Planning Permission to Let for More Than 90 Days

If you want to short-term let your property in London for more than ninety days while ensuring that you are compliant with local rules and regulations, then you will need to apply to the local council for planning permission. It is down to each individual council to decide whether or not this permission will be granted.

It is worth bearing in mind that few planning applications for short-term lets are accepted in London, so it can be difficult to determine how likely you will be to get your application accepted. In Tower Hamlets, for example, every application for a short-term let since 2014 has been denied due to a shortage of residential accommodation in the area that would be affected further by an increase in short-term lets.

Applying for planning permission can be quite a lengthy process for landlords, and councils are often not very forthcoming with information to help you through the process and make it easier.

What Other Cities Have Limits?

If you want to short-let your property throughout the year, then London might not be the best option for investment due to the 90-day rule and difficulty in obtaining planning permission to get around the regulations from many individual councils.

However, if you are thinking of investing in a property to rent out short-term on Airbnb, then it’s worth bearing in mind that London is not the only city to be restricted. In Berlin, you cannot short-let an entire home at all, and in Amsterdam, you can short-let for a limit of sixty nights per calendar year. Paris is a little bit more generous, with short-term lets of up to 120 nights per year allowed.

Whether you own a property in London or are considering investing in a property to advertise for short-term letting on Airbnb, it’s important to be aware of the 90 day rule and how it will affect you.

Image depicting a map with different cities and their respective short-term rental restrictions
Consider the short-term rental regulations in various cities before investing.

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