The Department for Levelling Up has recently announced changes to housing rules for short-term lets. This action follows growing concern about local residents being forced out of their community by people turning their properties into Airbnb holiday rentals in tourist areas of the country. This was seen by many as a good way of making profit on second homes, something which was turbocharged by the Covid pandemic. However, in many cases, this has resulted in property prices and rental costs being pushed up in these local areas.


Following a consultation which began in April 2023, the government has issued a press release outlining their plans for reform of short-term lets. Further action which demonstrates the government’s desire to tackle this issue is the announcement in the Spring Budget, which abolished the furnished holiday lets regime.


So, what has been announced by the Department of Levelling Up regarding changes to the planning rules for short-term lets? Let’s take a look at each announcement in detail.


Planning permission


Perhaps the major announcement made is that planning permission will now be required for future short-term lets. This would mean that for future short-term lets, property owners who wish to let their home out for over 90 days a year will be required to apply to their local council. This will give councils more control over short-term lets in their community, which in theory should help the housing situation in areas which are popular with tourists like Cornwall and Devon.


There has been no information so far as to how long the planning permission will take, however at the moment it usually takes up to 8 weeks. It seems unlikely that it will take much longer than this in the majority of cases.


It’s worth pointing out that the planning permission will only be required for future short-term lets. The government press release contains the mention of a new planning ‘use class’ which will be created for short-term lets which aren’t used as either a sole or main home. Those existing short-term lets will automatically come under the ‘new use class’ and therefore not be required to submit a planning application.


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Mandatory national register


Another change which will be introduced is a mandatory national register. The idea of a new mandatory national register is that it will give local authorities more information about the short-term lets in their local area. The government also claim that this will help local authorities to understand the effects of these short-term lets on their communities, as well as to “underpin compliance with key health and safety regulations”.


This particular change has received widespread praise from organisations ranging from Airbnb to Generation Rent, the latter of which campaigns on behalf of renters.


When can we expect further details?


The government have outlined that the changes will be introduced from this summer, but no information has been given about a specific date. The timing of this is a curious one, as summer is the most popular time for short-term lets, but it seems likely that there will be much more detail provided prior to the changes being implemented.


Our thoughts


With the ongoing housing crisis in the UK, more regulation will be welcomed by those who are being priced out of their local communities. While tourists often bring much needed investment into these same local economies, those who own property lets have an incentive to put their properties on Airbnb rather than rent to a local who may not provide them with as much income. With the sclerotic state of the UK economy, it can be a difficult balancing act trying to ensure that regulations are not too extensive.


However, a key fact of the matter is that only owners of new holiday lets will be required to apply for planning permission. So, for areas which have already been blighted by short-term property lets, it is perhaps difficult to see how these changes will help extensively. We will update you on these plans once further information is released.


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