Short-term holiday lets: new government proposal could leave homeowners needing special permission for Airbnb
Short-term lets like Airbnb are now a big part of the UK’s visitor economy, but locals in tourist hotspots say they were being "priced out" of housing
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Homeowners planning on converting houses into short-term holiday lets could end up needing special planning permission under new proposed government plans, aimed at stopping locals being “pushed out of cherished towns”.
On Wednesday (12 April), the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities published a new consultation document, to gauge whether the public supports requiring homeowners to get planning permission to start using existing homes as short-term lets. It also floats the option of giving owners flexibility to let out their home for a maximum number of nights per year, without the need for permission.
Housing and Communities secretary Michael Gove said tourism brings many benefits to the UK's economy, "but in too many communities we have seen local people pushed out of cherished towns, cities and villages by huge numbers of short-term lets".
"I’m determined that we ensure that more people have access to local homes at affordable prices, and that we prioritise families desperate to rent or buy a home of their own close to where they work," he added. "I have listened to representations from MPs in tourist hot spots and am pleased to launch this consultation to introduce a requirement for planning permissions for short term lets."
Short-term lets like Airbnb were now a significant part of the UK’s visitor economy, a department spokesperson said, and they provided increased choice and flexibility for tourists, business travellers, and people attending major events. But locals in tourist hotspots have said they were being "priced out" of housing in the place they call home.
The proposed planning changes would see a planning use class created for short-term lets not used as a sole or main home, alongside new permitted development rights, which will mean planning permission is not needed in areas where local authorities choose not to use these planning controls.
The Government has said it will also consult on a separate proposal - by the Department for Culture Media and Sport - for a registration scheme for short-term holiday lets.
Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer said the new world of ultra-flexible short term lets gives tourists more choice than ever before, "but it should not come at the expense of local people being able to own their own home and stay local".
"The Government wants to help areas get the balance right, and today we have an incomplete picture of the size and spread of our short term lets market. This consultation on a national registration scheme will give us the data we need to assess the position and enable us to address the concerns communities face," she said.
Airbnb welcomed the Government taking forward its plans for the register, but said it wanted to ensure any changes to the planning system “strike a balance between protecting housing and supporting everyday families who let their space to help afford their home and keep pace with rising living costs”.
Both of the proposed measures were focused on short-term lets, and neither the planning changes or the register will impact on hotels, hostels or B&Bs.