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  • Writer's pictureInchmead

Airbnb hosts will need planning permission

Owners of Airbnb and short-term let properties will have to get planning permission before renting out rooms in future.

From this summer the government will introduce legislation to require owners of new short-term lets in England to secure planning permission to use their properties for short-term rentals. This should allow councils to control the number of licences issued in a particular area.

The rules are not retrospective and will not apply to properties already rented on a short-term basis.

Under the reforms, set out in a consultation last year, councils will be given greater power to control short-term lets by making them subject to the planning process.

The proposed changes would see a new planning ‘use class’ created for short-term lets not used as a sole or main home. Existing dedicated short-term lets will automatically be reclassified into the new use class and will not require a planning application.

The scale of the planning fees has not been confirmed; currently a material change of use fee ranges from £120 to £258 depending on the premises.

Figures from VisitBritain estimated that there were over 432,000 short-term rental properties across the UK in June 2023. The UK’s short-term letting industry generated around £14bn of spending in 2019, over half (56%) of which went to hosts, according to analysis by Oxford Economics, commissioned by accommodation provider Sykes Holiday Cottages.

While there is no authoritative data, DCMS analysis of responses to the original consultation on the proposals found that on average hosts listed one to two properties and earned between £5,000 and £6,000 a year. However, 6% of property owners accounted for at least a third of revenue earned through short-term lets. The average booking length was three to four days.

Homeowners will be able to continue to let out their own main or sole home for up to 90 nights a year.

The system already operates to a degree in London where short-term lets for more than 90 nights in a calendar year have to be approved by the local planning authority.

‘These changes are part of a long-term plan to prevent a “hollowing out” of communities, address anti-social behaviour and ensure local people can continue to live in the place they call home,’ the government said.

A mandatory national register will also be set up to detail all short-term lets, but the government stressed this would take a ‘light touch’ approach and would keep bureaucracy to a minimum. It is reviewing responses to an earlier consultation to decide whether registration would be required annually, or less frequently, the amount of information required and whether there should be an annual fee.

It is likely that HMRC and other enforcement agencies would have access to the register.

Secretary of state for levelling up, 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.

‘So the government is taking action as part of its long-term plan for housing. This will allow local communities to take back control and strike the right balance between protecting the visitor economy and ensuring local people get the homes they need.’

The launch of the register was welcomed by Airbnb.

Amanda Cupples, general manager for Northern Europe, Airbnb said: ‘The introduction of a short-term lets register is good news for everyone. 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.

‘We have long led calls for the introduction of a Host register and we look forward to working together to make it a success.’

A detailed response to the DSMS consultation will be published later this year.

The legislation will only apply in England as Scotland and Northern Ireland already have short-term let licensing schemes in operation, and Wales is introducing a statutory licensing scheme for all visitor accommodation providers.


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