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Legal aspects of Airbnb hosting in London

I was hoping some airbnb hosts in London would be able to advise me on the legality of airbnb hosting. Recently I received a circular from my council asking me to confirm that I am the only person living here (and therefore eligible for a single person discount on my council tax) as they say a recent “data matching” exercise showed this might not be the case. I am assuming that one or two of my airbnb guests who had their mail delivered here might have led to this although I can’t be sure.

Once I started googling I then discovered that legally speaking short term letting (less than 3 months) does not seem to be legal in London unless you get planning permission from the council. Apparently some councils are more lax in their interpretation of this legislation than others - Camden Council recently started clamping down, I have heard.

Moreover, there is legislation going through Parliament which legalises Airbnb style short term letting - as long as it is done for no more than 3 months per year. If it is for more than 3 months per year then apparently it counts as taxable at business rates.

Anyway, as you can probably tell, this legal minefield is not one I can make much sense of. I am concerned that if I say I was letting out my room for short term lets the council might consider me in breach of planning permission or consider me to be running a business and therefore eligible for business rates. I read somewhere that as long as my flat cannot be considered as the “sole or main” residence of the people staying here then I am entitled to say that I live alone and therefore am eligible for the single person discount on the council tax. So I am hoping that is the case.

I have already had Airbnb guests staying here almost continuously for the last few months so I am wondering now whether to continue with this in view of the impending legislation.

Thanks a lot for any advice you can give me.

London recently passed legislation making certain kinds of Airbnb rentals for up to 3 months of the year fully legal: http://www.theguardian.com/travel/2015/feb/10/airbnb-to-be-legalised-in-london

Definitely ask a lawyer for the details, as this was a recent development.

We haven’t heard any of the 200+ Beyond Pricing Airbnb hosts in London mention any issues.

So you get a [personal property tax reduction because only one person lives there, yet you are hosting AirBnb guests. Why would you be surprised they are bearing down on you when your burning the candle at both ends?
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I think maybe you’re confusing the legislation that is to rent your whole house out. The new legislation is to cover people going off on holiday for a few months and then renting their house out while they’re away. Of course if they’re basically running a holiday home and always renting the house out then they should be paying tax.

If you’re renting a room out you should get the single person discount if the person permanently lives somewhere else (and is counted for Council tax there) otherwise if you didn’t get the single person discount the person would be contributing council tax twice.

If you’re guests have left their old residence and have moved in with you for example while they look for a permanent place to live and stay with you over a month and have their post coming to your house… then that’s getting into a grey area and sounds more risky!

I’m not however a lawyer so I’d recommend that you email the council and get it in writing that you’re doing the right thing to be safe.

David

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