members.parliament.uk Michael Gove https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

19 Feb 24

Airbnb has given its backing to a proposal from Housing Secretary Michael Gove to introduce a mandatory register of short let landlords.

The proposal has come this morning along with a raft of other ideas clamping down on short lets in England.

Councils will be given greater power to control short-term lets by making them subject to the planning process. Gove claims “this will support local people in areas where high numbers of short-term lets are preventing them from finding housing they can afford to buy or to rent.”

The proposed planning changes would see a new planning use class created for short-term lets not used as a sole or main home. Existing dedicated short-term lets will automatically be reclassified into the new use class and will not require a planning application.

The government says it also intends to introduce associated permitted development rights – one allowing for a property to be changed from a short-term let to a standard residential dwelling, and a second that would allow a property to be changed to a short-term let. Local authorities would be able to remove these permissions and require full planning permission if they deem it necessary.

Meanwhile, the new mandatory national register will give local authorities the information they need about short-term lets in their area, and the government suggests this “will help councils understand the extent of short-term lets in their area, the effects on their communities, and underpin compliance with key health and safety regulations.”

Existing homeowners will still be able to let out their own main or sole home without planning consent but only for up to 90 nights throughout a year.

Amanda Cupples – the general manager for Northern Europe Airbnb – says: “The introduction of a short-term lets register is good news for everyone. Families who Host on Airbnb will benefit from clear rules that support their activity, and local authorities will get access to the information they need to assess and manage housing impacts and keep communities healthy, where necessary.We have long led calls for the introduction of a Host register and we look forward to working together to make it a success.”

Her view is not shared by the trade body representing short lets providers and support companies.

Andy Fenner, chief executive of the trade group the Short Term Accommodation Association, says: “We’ve been calling for a registration scheme for years, so it’s disappointing that when it finally arrives it completely fails to address the challenges the country is facing. 

“The registration scheme could have been game changing for tourism in England had it covered all types of accommodation but, instead, what we’ve got is a missed opportunity that’s a half-way house at best. Had it been that comprehensive, politicians up and down the country would have been able to make well-informed decisions on planning. 

“They’d have been able to see exactly how the tourist industry functioned in their local area, which is important because a one-size-fits-all approach that achieves the right balance in one place would crush the tourism in another. 

“Instead, the holiday let industry is doomed to continue being unfairly regarded as tourism’s problem child, second-best to hotels, and unjustly taking the brunt of the blame game surrounding housing supply and affordability, despite the lack of a proper evidence base. The presumption is that, if you shut down all short term rentals tomorrow, the housing crisis would be solved but that is naive in the extreme. 

“The holiday let industry is not responsible for the housing crisis. Its causes run far deeper than that and are centred mainly on a lack of housebuilding and the abandoning of housing targets. 

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