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Registration, planning permission mooted for short-term lets

The government has launched a consultation on a registration scheme for short-term lets, as well as changing planning laws to require planning permission for the use.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said it would also consider whether to give owners the flexibility to let out their home for a maximum number of nights a year without the need for the permission.

The Communities secretary Michael Gove said: “Tourism brings many benefits to our 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.”

Commenting on registration, the Department for Culture, Media & Sports said: “Short-term lets are a significant and growing part of the UK’s visitor economy, supporting not only our leisure visitors and those attending major sporting and cultural events, but also accommodating everyone from film crews to business conference attendees.

“With a global visitor industry forecast to grow 3% year on year over the rest of the decade, a registration scheme would play a role in continuing to develop a responsible, high-quality and competitive short-term lets sector.

“The government wants to ensure that we reap the benefits of a diverse and sustainable visitor accommodation offer and support the visitor economy - whilst also protecting local communities, including in respect of the availability of housing to rent or to buy.”

Theo Lomas, head of public policy and government relations for northern Europe at Airbnb, told The Guardian: “Airbnb has long called for a national register for short-term lets and we welcome the government taking this forward. We know that registers are clear and simple for everyday hosts to follow while giving authorities the information they need to regulate effectively.

“We want to work with the government to ensure that any planning interventions are carefully considered, evidence-based, and 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.”

The move was welcomed by UKHospitality, which called for the registration scheme to be mandatory.

UKHospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls said: “Many businesses across the short-term letting market are not operating to the same legal standards as hotels, and a mandatory scheme is desperately needed to bring them up to scratch.

“UKHospitality has long been arguing that a registration scheme for short-term lets is essential to ensure parity across accommodation in the UK and I’m delighted that Government is taking action in England.

“Consumers deserve to know that wherever they stay, they will be experiencing the high standards of health and safety, fire safety and accessibility that they rightly expect.

“For that reason, the Government needs to ensure this scheme delivers change and both registration and inspections must be mandatory. An opt-in scheme will simply provide a loophole that will allow short-term lets to continue to fall well below the high standards that have been set by hotels for decades.”


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