28 Mar 23

Housing Secretary Michael Gove says he’s going to make changes to the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill currently going through Parliament in a bid to stem the growth of Airbnbs.

In a Parliamentary debate last week Gove was questioned by former Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron, who has previously campaigned against the proliferation of short lets in his Lake District constituency.

Farron, who represents Westmorland and Lonsdale, told MPs: “In the Lakes and the dales of Cumbria we have 63 per cent of our employers operating below capacity because there aren’t enough workers in the area. The big problem for us – which I know [Michael Gove] is seeking to tackle – is the collapse the long-term private rented sector into Airbnb.

“Could he give me some assurance of when this government will change planning law to allow communities like mine to control our housing stock so there are enough homes, affordable and available, for local families and local workers?”

The Housing Secretary replied: “Of course we want to have a labour market that works, and of course we want to have a tourism sector that works.

“But there is a problem in the private rented sector, particularly in beautiful parts of our country like those which he represents, where we do have homes which are turned into Airbnbs and into holiday lets in a way that actually impedes the capacity of young workers to find a place where they can stay in the locale that they love and contribute to the economy of which they wish to be part.”

He added: “We will be bringing forward some planning changes to the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill which are intended to ensure that we have restrictions over the way that homes can be turned into Airbnbs.”

In June last year the government formally launched a review into the effect of short-term holiday lets in a bid to improve the holiday letting market for those living in popular tourism destinations.

A scheme, proposed in the review, could involve physical checks of premises to ensure regulations in areas including health and safety, noise and anti-social behaviour are obeyed.

Further measures the government was said to be considering at that time included a registration ‘kitemark’ scheme with spot checks for compliance with rules on issues such as gas safety, a self-certification scheme for hosts to register with before they can operate, and better information or a single source of guidance setting out the legal requirements for providers.

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