Government plans to allow private landlords to rent properties to tourists without planning permission have been criticised by Labour MP Dame Tessa Jowell.
Anyone wishing to let out properties on a short-term basis currently needs permission from their local council who can balance applications against the need to provide sufficient homes for long-term residential use.
The need for planning permission was introduced in the Greater London Council (General Powers) Act 1973 and has remained in place despite the GLC’s abolition in 1986.
Earlier this year the Department for Communities and Local Government described the rules as “unnecessary red tape and bureaucracy”.
Ministers claimed inconsistencies in how boroughs apply and enforce the rules was causing confusion for some property owners and are planning to use legislation being debated this week to scrap them.
Dame Tessa, currently the frontrunner to become Labour’s 2016 Mayoral candidate, has warned this would weaken councils’ ability to ensure London has a stable rental market.
She commented: “It is scandalous that the government is prepared wilfully to shrink further the supply of privately rented houses and flats. The government should be reforming private renting to give better protection to tenants, not encouraging landlords to turn rented properties into what are in effect unlicensed hotels.
“Many private rented tenants are being exploited by landlords constantly bringing in new tenants so they can raise rents. The government’s plans will make this problem worse – reducing the supply of stable rented homes, and further destabilising local communities.”
Dame Tessa added that ministers should give councils the power to set local rules which serve the needs of communities while also meeting demand for tourist accommodation.