My office, together with officers at Westminster City Council, was able to secure a meeting last month with officials from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government in which the prevalence of short-lets in Westminster was discussed, together with what more can be done to protect our communities and limit the negative impacts (such as anti-social behaviour) that can sadly come alongside the proliferated usage of short-lets.
The meeting between my team, the Council and the Ministry was fruitful and will hopefully be the first in a series of ongoing dialogue between us, together with the direct involvement of Minsters.
The Ministry’s position at present is to encourage self-regulation of the sector and reported that the Short Term Accommodation Association (STAA) had recently told them that they intended to cap bookings to 90 days, which would bring platforms in line. This would probably be applied on a platform by platform basis rather than across all platforms. Officials from the Ministry did acknowledge the limits to self-regulation but it remains the preferred course of action at the moment. However, they were concerned by the lack of engagement from the STAA to develop an information sharing protocol. As such the Ministry has offered to convene a roundtable with the industry to push progress, which I hope will be attended by other local authorities and additional local representatives who are seeking action here. Of course I will provide a further update once we have been able to hold this session.
The Ministry also expressed a willingness to consider a fresh application for exemption for certain parts of Westminster from short-let regulations. Westminster City Council and I are encouraged by this and the Council will be putting together a submission for consideration by the Ministry, together with written evidence on scale and severity of the problem we in Westminster face with the proliferation of short-lets.
As I say, this meeting was the first of what will be series of ongoing conversations with the Ministry on this matter, which I know directly impacts a number of constituents. Westminster City Council and I will continue our efforts to protect our community from the worst effects short-lets.