14 Apr 23
The government is clear that short-term lets bring a range of benefits, such as income for individual homeowners and to local economies through increased visitor spend, and increased choice for consumers. At the same time, there are concerns about inconsistencies within the regulatory framework for the guest accommodation sector: unlike with hotels and B&Bs, it is difficult to monitor compliance with key health and safety regulations by short-term lets given the lack of an authoritative data source. Concerns have also been raised in areas with a high concentration of short-term lets about the impact on the availability and affordability of local rental housing and increased house prices driven by additional demand from owners of short-term lets. We have also heard about the negative effects on local areas of anti-social behaviour, and a broader ‘hollowing out’ of communities.
In recognition of the growing issues and stakeholder calls for further action, DCMS committed to consult on a Tourism Accommodation Registration Scheme in England in the Tourism Recovery Plan in June 2021. However, given the lack of existing data, including on the quantity and location of short-term lets, the former Tourism Minister Nigel Huddleston MP agreed to publish a call for evidence as a first step. The purpose of the call for evidence was to gather information that would improve the government’s understanding of the benefits and challenges of short-term lets across England as a whole, and how these vary across the country.
Call for evidence
The call for evidence set out six potential responses the government could consider after taking into account the evidence gathered: to do nothing; to provide more information to the sector; to develop a self-certification registration scheme; to develop a registration scheme with light-touch checks; to develop a licencing scheme with physical checks of short-term lets; or to address any issues through a regulatory alternative to a registration system.
Analysis of the 4,000 responses received shows there is support for the introduction of a light-touch registration scheme: 60% of all respondents indicated support for further intervention, with 42% of all respondents supporting a registration scheme (18% of all respondents favoured a more interventionist approach, for example a licensing scheme). Most respondents favouring a registration scheme called for it to be light touch and low cost.
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