STAA members work closely with local and national authorities ensure that hosts are aware of their obligations under law, and have an idea of best practice. To help hosts understand what they need to do, we have compiled an overview of the rules hosts should bear in mind when short-term letting, and areas of best practice. We have also collected a range of guidance documents which hosts might find useful. This information is not legal advice and we recommend you contact a relevant government authority, solicitor or accountant should you require further specialist guidance.
Legal obligations for short-term letting
1. Short-term rentals in Greater London are bound by planning restrictions, which mean that the use of residential premises as temporary sleeping accommodation is a “material change of use”, for which planning permission is required.
Exceptions to these restrictions were introduced in 2015, which mean that residential premises can be used for temporary sleeping accommodation. Hosts in Greater London can short-let their property without planning permission so long as:
· The sum of the number of nights does not exceed 90 days in a calendar year
· They are liable to pay council tax on the property
STAA encourages all hosts to contact their local authority for guidance on how to seek planning permission if they wish to let out their properties for over 90 days. Contact details for local London authorities can be accessed online via the London Government Directory.
Outside of London, planning restrictions and rules for short-term letting can vary. STAA encourages all hosts to contact their local authority for guidance on what rules may apply to short-letting. Tenants who rent out their accommodation are also encouraged to check with their landlord to see if their contracts allow subletting. Northern Ireland has its own different short-letting laws.
2. Hosts need to follow Fire Safety Law if anyone pays to stay in their property on a non-permanent basis. Fire safety checks, smoke detectors and firefighting equipment, and clear escape routes are all the responsibility of the landlord. Northern Ireland has its own Fire Safety laws.
4. Landlords have responsibility for electrical safety checks. Electrical Safety First has a guide on the rules surrounding electrical safety checks.
Useful documents and best practice to check before short-term letting:
· Other areas such as Health and Safety might also need to be complied with. These vary and should be checked locally, but a good starting point is available here, from the Department for Local Communities and Government.
· A fire safety guide for hosts in England and Wales can be accessed here.
· Further information on the Rent a Room Scheme which lets you earn up to a threshold of £7,500 per year tax-free from letting out furnished accommodation in your home can be accessed here.
· The Home Office recommends carrying out right to rent checks on guests for bookings of three months or more.