Nearly half of the short-term let properties available in one borough last year exceeded the legal 90-night limit.
Camden Council is now calling for a mandatory register or licensing system of short-term lettings that are listed on the likes of Airbnb.
The council collected data on entire homes (ie, not rooms) available for short-term let throughout 2019 and of the approximately 7,100 homes available, 3,400 (48%) exceeded the 90-night allowance – representing over half of the homes needed in the borough to help the 6,000 families on the council’s housing waiting list.
However, the council says it remains difficult to effectively locate properties being used for short-term let.
It claims that owners use avoidance tactics such as listing a property across multiple sites, using different locations and different photos to make it harder for local authorities to enforce breaches of the De-regulation Act, which allows properties to be rented for up to 90 nights without applying for planning permission.
Camden Council says that as a result, the true extent to which the short-term let market is being exploited remains a hidden issue and often only comes to light when residents are frequently disturbed by guests.
The council says that at a time when around a third of its residents rent from private landlords and more permanent homes are needed, properties being used as full-time short-term lets risk adding to the housing shortage and driving up rents.
In response the council is calling for the introduction of a mandatory register or licensing system so that the 90-night law can be properly enforced.
Camden Council also plans to introduce a short-term let pilot scheme later this year.
Cllr Danny Beales said that most short-term lets are two- to four-bedroom houses, the kind most in need by those on the waiting list. He said that “unscrupulous businesses” are breaking the law, and that the current system is too easily exploited.