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Tighter rules for holiday lets may be ahead in England

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Under the current proposals, owners who want to convert their properties into holiday lets may be required to first get planning permission.

The government has opened a consultation period on proposals it said would help local areas in England better control any future increase in the number of short-term lets in a bid to ease housing shortages.

One set of proposals seeks to ease housing shortages by creating a new category for short-term lets in popular holiday hotspots as a way to give local areas greater control over any future increase in Airbnb-type of rentals and protect the number of existing properties to buy or to rent longer term.

If passed into law, it would mean that property owners would need to secure planning permission before converting their sites into holiday rentals in certain areas, according to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. Hotels, hostels and B&Bs would be exempt, it said.

Residents being ‘pushed out’

Housing Secretary Michael Gove said that too many people were being “pushed out of cherished towns, cities and villages”.

He added: “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.”

For example, a homeowner might be allowed a rental period of between 30 and 90 days before having to apply to a local council for planning permission to reclassify the property as a short-term let. Or homeowners might be “provided with flexibility to let out their sole or main home for up to 30 nights in a calendar year”.

The consultation period, open through 7 June, also seeks views on the introduction of a planning application fee for the development of new-build short-term lets.

Adding to housing shortages

The government said that even though the sharing economy had benefits, the increase in short-term lets in certain coastal towns, national parks and some cities, was having a negative effect on local people’s ability to find and afford homes to buy or to rent.

It said the proliferation has led to concerns about “the viability of local shops, schools and other local services impacted by the lack of a permanent population and properties being left vacant over winter”.

Separately, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has opened a parallel consultation period on plans to introduce a registration scheme for short-term lets.

Airbnb said it hoped that any changes to the rental laws “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”.