City councillor echoes concerns on short term lets

Published: Tuesday, 13th February 2018

An Oxford City Executive Board Member is supporting calls by a London council for legislation to regulate short-term lets like those available through AirBnB.

A report on the problems caused by short-term lets was recently approved by the Public Realm Scrutiny Committee of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea; the report highlighted problems for neighbours from ‘pay parties’, the loss of family housing and risks for people staying in short term lets. The report will now progress to Kensington and Chelsea's Leader and Cabinet for a final decision. 

Councillor Alex Hollingsworth, Oxford City Council Board Member for Planning and Regulatory Services, has similar concerns regarding the impact of short term lets on the housing market. He supports Kensington and Chelsea in recommending lobbying the Government to introduce legislation to compel short-term holiday lettings hosts to apply for a licence and be included in a register kept by the Council.

Councillor Hollingsworth said: “While the issue isn’t as big in Oxford as it is in London, we are seeing increasing numbers of properties being used permanently as short-term lets, and with that come increasing problems. We know of short-term lets in Oxford being used as ‘pop-up’ brothels associated with sex trafficking, and reports of parties with up to 100 guests suddenly appearing in residential areas.”

“The original idea of short-term lets was to rent out unused rooms, or houses that were empty because the owners were on holiday themselves, for a few days at a time. What we now see in Oxford, like other cities, is properties essentially being used as hotels or guest-houses, but without any of the regulation and safety checks that hotels and guest houses undertake. The risks to guests, as well as the hassle for neighbours, of having dozens of people attending a commercial party in an ordinary house are obvious. We need to have help from Government before what is happening in London starts to become common place here.”

The City Council estimates that there may be as many as 1,200 properties in the Oxford area listed on AirBnB.