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The menace of short-term lets

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The chronic shortage of rental homes suffers a further blow by the creeping advance of short-term lets, explained a story by ARLA Propertymark on the 31st of January.

The article reveals that almost half a million homes are being switched to short-term lets by landlords wanting to avoid the ever-increasing regulation and adverse tax regime of the long-term rental market. Removing them from tenants looking for a place to live permanently only worsens the current housing shortage, argues ARLA.

The popularity – and ease of marketing – of short-term lets has been boosted, of course, by accommodation-sharing websites such as Airbnb. Available listings on Airbnb in 2018 numbered 223,000, compared with 168,000 just the year before – an increase of 33%.

Although the attraction of London for visiting tourists makes the capital the busiest Airbnb hotspot, other tourist destinations around the country are also experiencing a notable growth in short-term lets. ARLA reveals that 16% of households have let at least part of their home for the short-term during the past two years.

These figures suggest that as many as 4.5 million homes – 19% of the total housing stock – have been used for short-term lets.

The figures also highlight the dwindling stock of long-term housing in the private  - rented sector. In 2018, we reported record numbers of buy to let landlords already having made the decision to sell their properties. By June of 2019, we reported still further concerns posed by the possible scrapping of Section 21 evictions. Nearly four out of every ten landlords said they would sell up if Section 21 was scrapped – severely reducing the stock of private rental sector housing.