Adverts that promoted short-term lettings in the capital have been banned from the Transport for London (TfL) network following criticism from campaigners.
London mayor Sadiq Khan was urged to crack down on adverts across the Tube by firms that encouraged landlords to flout the 90-day annual limit for short-term lettings in London.
Adverts by the firm Hostmaker were criticised for encouraging landlords to remove their long-term tenants for short-term lets and suggesting they could make a profit in the process.
A spokesperson for Hostmaker said the firm is “a managed lettings platform that assists with short/mid and long term rentals”.
“We work with property owners across a range of needs, from interior design to fully managed lettings, whatever length of stay tenants are looking for.
“We adhere to the regulations around short term lets and we welcome tenants to stay in our fully furnished and managed homes all year round.”
TfL’s updated guidelines now read: “Advertising on the TfL network must not, expressly or by implication, promote the use of residential properties in London for short term ‘holiday lettings’ in a way that contravenes planning laws (i.e. granting “short term lettings” for more than 90 days a year without planning permission).”
It said adverts may be banned if they included reference to unlimited holiday lets, ambiguity about the type of letting or for suggesting that landlords could see increased returns from non-standard lettings.
Current laws state that it is illegal for landlords to rent out their homes in London for more than 90 nights a year on short-term lets unless they have been granted specific permission from their local council.
London mayor Sadiq Khan said: “I am doing everything in my power to make housing more affordable for Londoners. When everyone sticks to the rules, short-term lettings can help people earn a little extra money and they provide more options for visitors. But it is clearly wrong when companies encourage hosts to break the rules, and when services seem to rely on homes being taken out of the private rented sector altogether for financial gain.
“That’s why I welcome TfL issuing guidelines to ban adverts that encourage unlawful short-term letting and that make it harder for Londoners looking for somewhere to rent.”
Sian Berry, the Green party’s co-leader in England and Wales and candidate for London mayor, said: “London renters already struggle to find decent homes they can afford so it is outrageous that companies who want to push renters out of their homes should target London like this.
“I’ve been raising this with the mayor since June last year as different adverts, from different companies, but with the same message kept being allowed. I’m very glad a new policy clearly banning these adverts is now in place.”
Georgie Laming, campaigns manager at Generation Rent, said: “This is a huge victory for renters in London. Living in London is already tough, paying sky high rents for cramped housing, without being attacked every time we take public transport by adverts encouraging landlords to get rid of our homes. It’s great news that now, any adverts encouraging the loss of long term, private rented housing will be blocked.
“But without a better system of regulation, enforcement and taxation that prevents landlords from taking homes out of the longer term market, renters will continue to lose out from the rise of holiday lets.”
Main image credit: 36 Degrees/Generation Rent