Communities secretary Eric Pickles has announced the end of rules that prevent short-term renting of private homes.
Quashing of the outdated laws will mean Londoners can use home and room rental sites such as Airbnb and OneFineStay without fear of penalty.
Currently the rules say that Londoners wishing to rent out their homes for less than three months need to apply for planning permission from the council or risk up to a £20,000 fine. However, many homeowners flout the rules and, unlike some other international cities such as New York, fines are rare.
The Government says there were nearly 5 million overseas visitors to the capital between July and September last year alone, and thousands of properties available as holiday lets on travel websites.
However, under 40-year-old laws dating from the time of the GLC (Greater London Council), Londoners who want to rent out their homes for less than three months technically still have to apply for planning permission from the council – something that doesn’t apply anywhere else in the country. These provisions caused controversy during the 2012 Olympics, and are irregularly enforced by different London boroughs leading to confusion.
Ministers now want to change this archaic system through a measure in the Deregulation Bill, giving Londoners the freedom to rent out their homes on a temporary basis, such when they are on holiday, without having to deal with unnecessary red tape and bureaucracy of paying of a council permit.
The measure will not allow homes to be turned into hotels or hostels – this would still require ‘change of use’ planning permission, and measures will be put in place to prevent abuse of such reforms or the permanent loss of residential accommodation.
Pickles said such reforms will not just benefit London’s strong tourism industry by expanding the pool of competitively priced accommodation, but allow families to earn some extra cash when they themselves go away.
These reforms follow changes introduced last year to make it easier for residents to rent out an unused home parking space to earn extra money, helping expand the availability of parking options for commuters and visitors.
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said: “The internet is changing the way we work and live, and the law needs to catch up. We have already reformed the rules on renting out your unused parking spaces, now we want to do the same regarding renting out your home for a short period.
“It’s time to change the outdated, impractical and restrictive laws from the 1970s, open up London’s homes to visitors and allow Londoners to make some extra cash.”