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Police are called in as 200 attend noisy Airbnb party

Calls for government to control the rise of short-term letting websites after revellers disturb neighbours into early hours

10 March, 2017 — By Joe Cooper

Cllr Diarmaid Ward: ‘My basic issue with Airbnb and other short-term letting sites is that it pushes up rent’

POLICE were called to an Airbnb party which attracted 200 revellers who kept neighbours awake with loud music until the early hours.

The owner of the property in Grosvenor Avenue, Canonbury, was away when the party was thrown last Friday night.

Town Hall anti-social behaviour officers were alerted but had to call in the police due to “aggressive” behaviour.

Islington Police tweeted about the incident, saying: “Advice? Do not rent your flat for the weekend.” They said there had been evidence of “drug use and disorder” but a Met Police spokeswoman denied this was the case.

Islington’s housing chief, Cllr Diarmaid Ward, has called on the government to bring in new regulations to control the rise of short-term letting sites.

New figures show the number of Islington properties available to rent on Airbnb doubled in the year-and-a-half to October 2016, from 950 to 1,880 – and complaints to the council about noise from Airbnb properties have also rocketed.

Airbnb has proved a hit across the world by giving tourists the chance to save on hotel costs, but there are concerns neighbourhoods are being disrupted.

It has also been suggested that the trend adversely affects the private rental market as landlords chase greater income from tourists over long-term renters.

Councillor Diarmaid Ward, executive member for housing at Islington Council, told the Tribune: “My basic issue with Airbnb and other short-term letting sites is that it pushes up rent. There are less properties to rent long-term. We need to look at what other cities have done. New York and Berlin have imposed heavy fines.”

Berlin’s Zweckentfrem­dungsverbot law banned landlords from renting more than half of their property on a short-term basis without a permit. Offenders risk a 100,000-euro fine. New York City went further, banning all short-term rentals of less than 30 days.

Airbnb is one of the most popular short-term letting sites in the UK. The company has introduced new limits to help ensure entire home listings in London are not advertised on the site for more than 90 days without required permission.

Cllr Ward welcomed the move, but believes there are many rogue landlords who do not follow the law. “Land­lords have admitted they would move to another site after 90 days,” he said.

Some landlords have even admitted to using the same property, moving the loca­tion pinpoint a few metres down the road, he added.

However, an Airbnb spokesman said: “It’s not true that it’s easy to circumvent the cap. We have robust systems in place to help protect our community and tackle suspicious activity. The Department for Communities and Local Government have praised this new policy and encouraged other services to follow suit.”

Airbnb said that entire homes available for short-term letting on the site represents “less than 1 per cent of London’s private housing stock”, and that the impact on the housing market is “negligible”.

Last year, Airbnb established the London Borough Working Group to work with local authorities, including Islington, on these issues.

Additional reporting by Tevye Markson

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