Landlords Warning – London Olympics 90 day lettings law

by Mary Latham

10:27 AM, 8th January 2012
About 7 years ago

Landlords Warning – London Olympics 90 day lettings law

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Landlords Warning – London Olympics 90 day lettings law

People who are thinking of letting during the Olympics should be aware that it is a criminal offence to let a London property for less than 90 Days without permission.

Landlords will risk fines of up to £20,000 and a criminal record if they do not get planning permission to let during the Olympics.

Following on from Ben Reeve-Lewis’s article, here is my warning to London Landlords and Agents. S.25 of the Greater London Council (General Powers) Act 1973 provides (as amended by s.4 of the Greater London Council (General Powers) Act 1983):-

“(1) For the purposes of s.22(1) of the Act of 1971, the use as temporary sleeping accommodation of any residential premises in Greater London involves a material change of use of the premises and of each part thereof which is so used.

(2) In this section –

(a) “use as temporary sleeping accommodation” means use as sleeping accommodation which is occupied by the same person for less than 90 consecutive nights and which is provided (with or without other services) for a consideration arising either –

(i) by way of trade for money or money’s worth; or

(ii) by reason of the employment of the occupant, whether or not the relationship of landlord and tenant is thereby created;

(b) “residential premises” means a building, or any part of a building, which was previously used, or was designed or constructed for use, as one or more permanent residences “.

By virtue of the Interpretation Act 1978, the reference to s.22(1) of the 1971 Act now relates to s.55(1) of the 1990 Act.

Southwark, Tower Hamlets, Islington, Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster and Camden have  all warned people who let properties for short periods without planning permission could be served with enforcement notices. In some cases they could receive fines of up to £20,000 if they were deemed to be repeat offenders.

Look at this case from 1999



Comments

Ben Reeve-Lewis

16:32 PM, 8th January 2012
About 7 years ago

Yeah there is a  mixed bag in London about this though Mary, in terms of response. Some councils are being very bullish and beligerent over it, particularly Westminster, while other councils arent bothered in enforcing at all.

I think a quick call to the relevant council would gather the info for concerned landlords.

Councils who will be actively seeking prosecutions for this tend to harp on about the damage caused to the long term rental market. I think this is true and that was what my article aimed to highlight but I am a cynical old so and so, especially where Westminster are concerned and I think it has more to do with income generation on their part. Catch just 10 properties breaking the rule and you have 4 council jobs in there saved or a community centre or 2.

20:10 PM, 8th January 2012
About 7 years ago

Surely the logistics for councils to catch people out is an impossibility.
You are overworked already.
To expect council officers to be able to locate visitors who are here for such a short period is ridiculous.
If people choose to go away and rent their place out to a visitor how are possibly going to find out.
Anyway all people have to say is they have swapped their house in so and so; prove they haven't once you have located such a visitor.
I think the main issue will be council tenants trying to make some money; a lot of it on the side.
Course if they tried that there would be all sorts of ramifications for them; such as
Non-declaration of additional income
Illegally sub-letting
Loss of council tenancy
Private  owners won't have to concern themselves, they will get away with it.
Just look at what happens in Wimbledon.
The taxman does not know all the houseoweners who let out their properties during Wimbledon.
What chance do you think of them finding anyone across London.
Personally I think there should be a countrywide suspension of such regualtions.
We should be welcoming Olympic visitors into our homes across the country and not have the same regs in place for this Olympic period
Clearly once the Olympics are over then the status quo should naturally return.
This Olympic occasion is something that is most unlikely to occcur again in our lifetime,  so surely to open the doors of any householder who wishes to have Olympic visitors in their properties should be welcomed by the govt and all councils.
Notwithstanding the economic benefit of having local expenditure by these vistiors.
A wlecome albeit short term boost to local economioes in times of severe financial stress.

Ben Reeve-Lewis

20:47 PM, 8th January 2012
About 7 years ago

Yeah you are right Paul. The logistics of being able to find people are against councils. I think its all bluff and bluster myself and dont forget that many London councils arent bothered at all. We have better things to do frankly.

A short term boost to economies though? I think in housing terms it will cost London more than it makes overall and that a few landlords will do very well out of it.

I have a companion pice going on P118 shortly that sets it out in more detail

Mary Latham

22:00 PM, 8th January 2012
About 7 years ago

 
If landlords pay the council tax and utiity bills it would be more difficult to track but if the names change on these bills for a short period of time it would be simple to trace those that are let.

Apart from the revenue that a local authority could make there are the issues of homelessness increasing during the Olympics and illegal evictions taking up officer time. I think that some authorities will use this as a prevention costing less than the cure. It will remain to be seen but landlords need to be aware of the posibility and make an informed decision

Paul this is specifically a London issue under S.25 of the Greater London Council (General Powers)

0:20 AM, 9th January 2012
About 7 years ago

Don't you agree Mary that the country should have a policy of welcoming visitors for this Olympic period and not having these rules, even in London.

Ben Reeve-Lewis

7:10 AM, 9th January 2012
About 7 years ago

I cant see anyone changing utility bills for the month or any other sensible way of councils finding out about a short let, apart from standing outside the games each day with a clipboard gathering names.

Landlords are in more danger of being embroiled in complications set up by scammers and as you say Mary councils are going to be more pre-occupied with the increase in homelessness that the Olympics will cause

Tessa Shepperson

8:54 AM, 9th January 2012
About 7 years ago

Here is an interesting post on the subject from Anthony Gold blog which may be good news for landlords http://blog.anthonygold.co.uk/2011/11/can-local-authorities-really-stop-olympic-short-lets/

Mary Latham

12:17 PM, 9th January 2012
About 7 years ago

I am not legally qualified but I am wondering would London local authorities need to use Article 4 directions to restrict short term lets or is this enough

S.25 of the Greater London Council (General Powers) Act 1973 provides (as amended by s.4 of the Greater London Council (General Powers) Act 1983)
By virtue of the Interpretation Act 1978, the reference to s.22(1) of the 1971 Act now relates to s.55(1) of the 1990 Act.

If these authorities have got the powers they could surely go back up to six years after the event to take action against the landlord?

Landlords who offer an all inclusive rent are less likely to be caught as long a neighbours don't report them - the green eyed monster is a powerful motivator.

9:40 AM, 10th January 2012
About 7 years ago

How utterly ridiculous. Upholding the law and its coverage for more serious issues aside, you do wonder what this country has become. Lock up the councillors I say. Will the athletes have to stay in the purpose built village for more than 90 days ? I bet in Ancient Greece the locals put the athletes up for a free ticket, which of course would be an outrage today.

8:35 AM, 14th January 2012
About 7 years ago

Quite apart from the problems of detection which others have described, there are two further hurdles that cause me to think the local authorities are having a laugh.

It is NOT an offence to breach planning law. An offence only takes place when a) a planning notice has been issued and b) that notice has not been complied with within a reasonable time.

Given that Olympic lettings are likely to be for less than a month, it will be very few landlords who, even if an authority managed to get a notice out in time, would not comply with the notice by the paying guests leaving.

Finally there is the issue of persuading a Magistrates' Court to impose a fine. I'm not aware of any sentencing guidelines, but I should be surprised if a fine more than a few hundred pounds would result.

The position of council tenants is quite different. If they part with possession for a moment and there is sufficient evidence (e.g. a contract) they could lose their home. Out of fairness, I'd have thought the boroughs ought to be warning of that.

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