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The End of Easy Airbnb? New Rules Require Planning Permission for Short-Term Rentals

The short-term holiday lettings market in England has been booming in recent years, due to the popularity of online booking platforms, which makes it easier for homeowners to rent out their properties to tourists and visitors. However, this trend has also raised concerns about the impact of such rentals on the housing market, the tourism sector, and the local communities where they are located. In response, the government has launched a consultation on how to regulate this market and ensure that it operates in a fair and sustainable way.


The consultation, which is led by the housing secretary, Michael Gove, will seek views from a wide range of stakeholders, including local authorities, hosts, guests, businesses, and residents. The main issues that the consultation will address are:

 Planning permission: The consultation will explore whether properties that are let for short periods of time should require planning permission from the local council, and whether there should be exemptions for certain types of properties or areas. Currently, planning permission is not required for short-term lets in England, unless the property is in London or is subject to specific local restrictions.


Night limits: The consultation will consider whether there should be a limit on the number of nights that a property can be rented out as a holiday home per year, and what that limit should be. This could help to prevent properties from being used exclusively or predominantly for short-term lets, and to ensure that they remain available for long-term housing. In London, there is already a limit of 90 nights per year for short-term lets, unless the host has planning permission to exceed it.


Registration scheme: The consultation will also look into the possibility of creating a new registration scheme for short-term lets, which would be led by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. This scheme would require hosts to register their properties with the government and provide basic information about their activities, such as the number of nights they let their properties, the number of guests they accommodate, and the income they generate. The scheme would also enable hosts to access guidance and support on how to comply with health and safety standards, tax obligations, and other relevant regulations.


Enforcement powers: The consultation will examine how to ensure that hosts follow the rules and respect the rights and interests of their neighbours and local communities. It will look at how to give local authorities more powers and resources to enforce the rules and impose sanctions on rule-breakers, such as fines, injunctions, or bans. It will also consider how to improve the cooperation and information-sharing between local authorities and online platforms, and how to encourage platforms to take more responsibility for ensuring that their hosts comply with the law.


The government says that the aim of the consultation is to balance the benefits of short-term lets for the tourism sector and the economy, with the need to protect the availability and affordability of housing for local people. It also says that it wants to support hosts who provide high-quality accommodation and services to their guests, while preventing rogue operators from exploiting the system and causing problems for their neighbours and communities.

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