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Slough landlords turn to Airbnb to avoid new licensing scheme

Landlords are listing their properties on Airbnb to avoid signing up to a new licensing scheme in Slough, the council’s housing regulation manager has said.

On July 1, new rules were introduced that require landlords with multiple individually let rooms to obtain a licence from Slough Borough Council.

This had the aim of improving standards of rental accommodation and tenant safety across the borough.

But despite receiving hundreds of licensing applications, the council said it has seen an increase in listings on Airbnb as people attempt to rent their properties out over a long-term basis online.

Rhian Richards, part of the council’s housing team, discussed the issue during a meeting of the Neighbourhoods and Services Overview and Scrutiny Panel on Thursday (Oct31).

She said: “Since the licensing has come in to force we’ve had a sudden flurry of activity with regards to Airbnb.

“Some people are trying to subvert the licensing requirements by letting their properties as Airbnb but to all intents and purposes they are tenancies.

“We just need to identify where those are and get to the evidence we need to proceed with those cases.”

A council spokeswoman told the Express that while Airbnb is a valid way to rent out a property for short term accommodation, such as a holiday, it is not a platform for people who want to find a permanent home.

A statement said: “Trying to avoid paying the Landlord Licence by using this method will not mean they are exempt from a Landlord Licence and could even fall foul of planning laws.”

Colin Moone, the council’s lead for housing services, told the meeting that the licensing scheme for Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) was a ‘good news story’ for the borough as it attempted to improve rental accommodation in the town.

He added: “We are very serious about the licensing scheme and we want the council to be very serious about the licensing scheme.

“At the moment the council is in a difficult financial position and general funds are under pressure.

“We’re going out there and raising standards and I’ll be at my staff chamber beating the drum for more resources for HMO licences.”

The Express has approached Airbnb for comment.

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