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New controls on holiday lets to be introduced

by Staff
  • By Becky Morton
  • BBC political reporter

Image source, Getty Images

Image caption,

Scarborough has seen a sharp increase in the number of holiday lets in recent years

New controls on holiday lets in England will be introduced from the summer to stop local people being unable to afford to live in their own community, the government has announced.

The changes mean people may need to seek permission from the council to turn their home into a short-term let.

A mandatory national registration scheme will also be introduced.

The rules will not apply to people renting out their main home for less than 90 nights a year.

Hotels, hostels and B&Bs are also unaffected by the changes.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said councils would have the power to require planning permission for properties to be turned into short-term lets, if they deemed this necessary.

Only new short-term lets would require planning permission, with existing ones automatically reclassified.

The government said the changes would make it easier to find somewhere affordable to buy or rent in places where there are a high number of short-term lets, preventing a “hollowing out” of communities.

It said the new national register would also give local councils information about short-term lets in their area to help understand the effect on communities and ensure compliance with health and safety regulations.

The changes were welcomed by Airbnb, a website which allows people to advertise short-term lets.

Amanda Cupples, the company’s general manager for Northern Europe, said: “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.”

Campaign group Generation Rent said it was pleased a registration scheme would finally be introduced but there was “significant doubt” over whether changes to the planning system would be enforceable.

Chief executive Ben Twomey said: “Proposals to allow existing short term lets to automatically gain permission to continue risks shutting the stable door once the horse has bolted.”

MPs representing popular holiday destinations like Cornwall, the Lake District and Norfolk have previously called for stronger regulation, arguing a rise in the number of short-term lets has made it hard for local people to find somewhere affordable to live.

However, others criticised the proposals when they were first announced last year, with former Conservative Housing Secretary Simon Clarke calling them “anti-business”.

The Tourism Alliance, a trade association representing the sector, said it supported the idea of a mandatory registration scheme, but changes to planning rules were “more concerning”.

The association’s executive director, Richard Toomer, said: “While we understand the government’s desire to tackle the lack of housing in some areas, it is vital that we don’t harm the visitor economy in destinations which are reliant on a good supply of tourism accommodation.

“We continue to believe that the registration scheme must be implemented first, because it’s only by using the data that this scheme will supply that local authorities can know if and where there are problems, and have solid information on which to base their planning decisions.”

Housing Secretary Michael Gove said: “Short-term lets can play an important role in the UK’s flourishing tourism economy, providing great, easily-accessible accommodation in some of the most beautiful parts of our country.

“But in some areas, too many local families and young people feel they are being shut out of the housing market and denied the opportunity to rent or buy in their own community.”

He said the changes “strike the right balance between protecting the visitor economy and ensuring local people get the homes they need”.

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