London accommodation laws need to “catch up”, government official claims

A law preventing Londoners from renting out their homes to business travellers and tourists is “outdated”, the communities secretary has claimed.

Eric Pickles’ comments come after the government announced that it will look to update legislation from the 1970s which requires homeowners in the city to acquire planning permission before renting out their homes for periods of less than three months. While the law is often overlooked, those breaking it currently risk being hit with fines of up to £20,000, thesundaytimes.co.uk reports.

The short-term rental market has grown significantly in recent years as business travellers search for alternatives to conventional hotel accommodation. Dedicated apps and websites such as OneFineStay and Airbnb have proved particularly popular.

Mr Pickles was quoted by cityam.com as saying: “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.”

London isn’t the only city to present Airbnb with legal hurdles to navigate. The legitimacy of the site, which has been in operation since 2008, is also being questioned in San Francisco and New York where similar rules prevent uses from agreeing tenancies shorter than 30 days.

The service’s popularity in the UK capital grew considerably during the 2012 Olympics as many people looked to benefit financially from the influx of visitors.