Marylebone High Street Councillor speaks out on short-term letting

Up to 26th May 2015, short-lets of less than 90 days were illegal in Westminster. Under the present law, householders can let out their homes for up to 90 days a year. Westminster City Council has absolutely no quarrel with this principle; but we do have a big quarrel with the way this freedom is being abused by commercial agents who let out properties per night year-round, to people who have no understanding of how our City’s waste and recycling works. Marylebone High Street Conservative Councillor Karen Scarborough said: ‘It’s unacceptable that a multi-million-pound on-line short-term-letting agency, said to pay just £200,000 tax in the UK, costs Westminster City Council many more times that in clearance and enforcement against fly-tipping and litter-dumping.
 
‘There is also a cost in terms of community cohesion. To thrive as a community, we need a stable, long-term residential population, which is disrupted by these unlicensed nightly-lets, which deprive the community of much-needed housing.
 
In her Leader’s Speech to Council on 8th November, Conservative Council leader Nickie Aiken gave notice to irresponsible landlords. Nickie has set up the new My Westminster Housing Standards Task Force, tasked with going after landlords of unsafe properties and illegal short-term lets. The team will consist of officers from Environmental Health, Trading Standards, Planning Enforcement and City Inspectors. They will conduct Health and Safety investigations, enquire about insurance-compliance, issue fines. They will be on the tail of rogue-landlords and illegal letting-agencies, to the maximum powers of the law – and we shall be pressing the Government for more powers to deal with evident tenancy-abuses so as to protect everyone who lives in our City.