London Airbnbs turn back into rental homes: good deals in store for London renters as short-lets flood the market amid coronavirus travel restrictions

Londoners are scoring rent reductions as Airbnb land lords convert properties from short- to long-term lets, boosting the supply of available rental homes.

AirDNA, the website that tracks every Airbnb listing in the capital showed that the number of active Airbnbs in London dropped from just under 85,000 in the last quarter of 2019, to 62,000 now.

Meanwhile, Rightmove reported a 45 per cent year-on-year increase in central London homes listed for rent last week, when Londoners were told to start working from home but before the full stay-at-home measures were enforced.

Other popular tourist cities in the UK were also flooded with new rental homes, with the number in central Edinburgh up 105 per cent.

“There was a notable increase in new rental listings coming on to Rightmove in some of the most popular tourist areas like Bath, Edinburgh, Brighton and areas of central London last week, likely as landlords who normally rent out their properties as holiday homes looked to find another income route by offering it to long-term tenants instead,” Rightmove’s Miles Shipside said.

This follows Airbnb’s announcement that guests could cancel, without penalty, any booking made on the platform between March 14 and April 14, a policy that looks likely to continue.

Will this mean rent reductions?

This could be good news for London renters who are looking to move as soon as the lockdown is lifted, with an increase in supply generally giving them a stronger negotiating hand.

Rental listings website SpareRoom said 22 per cent of letting agents and 13.5 per cent of landlords had reduced the rents they are asking in the past week.

Charity PR Imogen Blake, 28, managed to secure a £200-a-month reduction on a two-bedroom garden flat in Loughborough Junction which had previously been an Airbnb.

“Last week I decided to move in with my boyfriend so we could see each other during lockdown so we set up viewings and noticed a lot of listings within our budget but much nicer than we were expecting that were available immediately,” said Ms Blake. 

“We viewed three flats around south London, two of which had previously been short lets on Airbnb but where the landlords wanted long-term tenants due to the current situation with coronavirus and the travel industry.

“Our new flat was listed for £1,800 per month but in the end we got it for £1,600.”

Lettings agents also confirmed that their offices had been inundated with new instructions from Airbnb landlords seeking to convert to long-term lets.

“Airbnb landlords have had a lot of cancellations. Therefore, they have gone to longer-term lets of six months or more. I’m hearing it from directors across all our offices,” said Sam Fung, lettings manager of Foxtons in Walthamstow.

“Our area isn’t that popular on Airbnb but even we’ve had several landlords with Airbnbs come to us to list their properties as long lets.”

Airbnb was contacted but declined to comment.

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