Up in the Air – Potential changes to planning position for AirBnBs!

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities is currently consulting on the Government’s proposals which would require planning consent for the conversion of homes in England into short-term holiday lets in tourist “hotspots” under government plans.

They intend to consult on https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/consultation-on-a-registration-scheme-for-short-term-lets-in-england/consultation-on-a-registration-scheme-for-short-term-lets-in-england: –

  • the potential for a registration scheme for short-term holiday lets;
  • the proposed change), which would see a new planning use class being created for holiday lets not used as a sole or main home; and
  • whether to give owners the flexibility to let out their home for a maximum number of nights a year (for example, 30, 60 or 90) without the need for planning permission.

The proposal for a registration scheme may be introduced via the Levelling Up and Regeneration bill currently going through parliament, while the planning changes, subject to the outcome of the consultation, would be introduced through secondary legislation later in the year.

The main reason behind the plans is the inability of local people to afford to live in certain tourist areas due to second homes and holiday lets. Communities secretary Michael Gove saying “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” – https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-holiday-let-rules-to-protect-local-people-and-support-tourism

At this stage, it appears that any changes would be down to individual Local Authorities with the Government saying that Local Authorities could choose not to use the planning controls (presumably by permitted development rights in areas where planning permission would not be required) but councils in tourist hot spots such as Cornwall and Whitby are expected to take full advantage to stop residents having to move away from holiday towns.

‘Airbnb’ have welcomed the Government’s plans for the register of short term holiday lets, but said any changes to the planning system should “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”. Airbnb indicated that 4 in 10 UK host say the earnings help them afford the rising cost of living.

It is unlikely that any legislation would be retrospective which means that properties currently used as Airbnbs would not be affected, although ministers have not ruled out “crackdowns” on all properties in the future. In addition, the changes are intended to focus on Airbnbs, not hotels, hostels or Bed and Breakfasts.

If you are interested in purchasing property for use as a holiday let then it is advisable that proper legal due diligence is carried out to ensure that the property can be used for the intended purpose. Planning may not be the only barrier to overcome when considering purchasing a holiday let, as some properties can have restrictive covenants registered against the property’s title which restricts how a property can be used.

For further advice on purchasing property, including second homes or property to be let out, please contact Keelys’ Residential Conveyancing or Real Estate departments.

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