Labour Councillors have called on Housing Minister Kris Hopkins MP to meet the Westminster Amenity Societies Forum, comprising local residents and amenity associations in Westminster, to discuss the Government’s plans to lift the long-standing controls on flats being renting out for less than three months.
Residents and Amenity associations across Westminster, supported by both Labour and Conservative Councillors and MPs, are opposing the Government plans because of its damaging impact on local communities.
There is already a significant problem with unauthorised short term lets and a huge increase in the number of authorised short-term lets in Westminster. The Government plans with exacerbate the current problems and will fuel the break-up of residential communities in St John’s Wood, Maida Vale, Bayswater, Lancaster Gate, Marylebone and the West End generally.
Currently, anyone in Westminster and the rest of London who wants to rent out their property for less than three months needs planning permission, as this is considered a change of use under the 1973 Greater London Powers Act.
The case against the Government proposals is well summarised by the Marylebone Association;
“Not only will it put more pressure on London’s private rental market at the very time when rents are already at all-time highs by creating a more expensive and smaller rental stock but it will have further serious consequences; it will create more nuisance to long term residents, from rubbish, noise and anti-social behaviour; it will result in compromised security in large blocks and the further erosion of the long term community in our area; finally it will result in more expense to Westminster in trying to enforce a more complicated regime which will affect us all in service cutbacks in this area or elsewhere.”
Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, Leader of the Labour Group, said;
“It is common sense that neighbourhoods will change for the worse when more and more people are using flats as cheap hotel rooms. The new ‘residents’ are just passing through and have no roots or even the slightest connection with the area.”
“On top of this, as the number of residential flats decreases this pushes up rents, making living in Westminster even more unaffordable for all but the very rich. We are particularly concerned that this proposed change in the law will encourage a new area of property speculation from investors buying up flats and turning them into quasi hotels from which the financial returns will be greater than from residential use.
“Too many short-term lets simply piles on the pressure on everything else from noise nuisance to rubbish collection, as well as destroying communities by sucking out their lifeblood.”
“This is an issue which has united residents and political parties right across Westminster. I urge the Minister to meet the Westminster Amenity Societies Forum and hear for himself the damage that the Government’s plans will do to Westminster’s communities”