10 Jan 2022

The government looks set to clamp down on holiday rentals and will this year formally consult on the concept of a mandatory register for England.

Housing minister Chris Pincher has pledged that consultation on a Tourist Accommodation Registration Scheme will begin this year.

The consultation process will also look at the impact on communities of proliferating numbers of Airbnb and other short let homes.

The news of the consultation has emerged in a debate in the House of Commons triggered by former Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron, who told fellow MPs that holiday lets of the kind in his Lake District constituency should require separate planning permission and should involve owners paying multiples of the council tax paid by owner occupiers and traditional long-term renters.

He claimed that many local people could no longer afford to live in the area, creating labour shortages and damaging services such as schools and shops.

Farron went on to claim that the desire to buy second homes during the pandemic and the ease with which they can be let via Airbnb and other platforms had pushed up prices and left many villages and towns largely empty for much of the year.

“A bad situation has become entirely disastrous” he told members, claiming that the cost of a typical home in his constituency was now around 11 times the average wage.

MPs from other parties backed Farron.

Conservative Bob Seely, who represents the Isle of Wight, told the debate that 82 per cent of residential properties in the village of Seaview were now second homes.

Rachael Maskell, Labour MP for York, said the typical property price in the city was 8.3 times the average wage and Tory Selaine Saxby – MP for North Devon – said that in Barnstaple only two properties were currently listed for long-term rentals, while 123 were available on Airbnb.

Housing minister Chris Pincher, responding for the government, pledged that consultation on a Tourist Accommodation Registration Scheme would begin this year.

Pincher said: ”We recognise a large number of second homes and holiday lets can have adverse effects.” 

But he added that tourism was a significant part of local economies in much of England and home owners had to be free to use their properties as they wished.

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