Second-home owners will be forced to seek planning permission to start renting out their properties as holiday lets, under plans to reduce housing pressure in tourist hotspots.
Michael Gove, the housing secretary, will announce today that ministers intend to alter planning laws by the end of the year to give councils the power to ban future holiday lets if their local area does not have enough affordable housing to rent or buy.
At the same time the government is opening a consultation on creating a new mandatory registration scheme for holiday lets that would allow councils, for the first time, to see how much local housing stock is taken up by temporary lets. The move is designed to appease concerns among residents in holiday hotspots such as Cornwall, the Lake District, Norfolk and even parts of London that new housing is being bought up speculatively to make money from private rentals through platforms such as Airbnb.
Announcing the changes, Gove said that while tourism provided a lot of benefits to the economy, he was concerned that local people were being “pushed out” of communities because landlords could make more money through short-term lets.
“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,” he said. “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.”
The move follows a concerted campaign by Tory MPs who demanded the changes among concessions on planning made in the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill. In a consultation to be published today the government is expected to point to figures showing that in places such as Cornwall short-term listings had increased six-fold in five years.
Other research shows that since 2014, there has been a 571 per cent increase in the number of entire home listings in London, with nearly 45,000 entire properties available to rent. About one in ten “hosts” rent more than one property.
Government sources said they did not want to prevent homeowners from renting out individual rooms for short-term lets or their entire property as long as it was for a limited period of time.
The consultation is expected to set a rental period of between 30 and 90 days before a homeowner would need to apply for planning permission for a change in use.
One Whitehall source said the move had been driven by concerns that in some areas new-build homes were being bought up en masse by speculative landlords to rent out on platforms such as Airbnb and Vrbo.
“In the current economic climate it is important that we prioritise new housing for people looking to buy their first homes or for long-term rent,” the source said. “The situation is distorting the market in some parts of the country and we need to use all the levers we can to try and address this.”
The source added: “If you wanted to turn your home into a hotel you’d need to get planning permission so this is about adapting the law to keep pace with changes in the tourism market.”
Under the proposed planning changes a planning-use class would be created for short-term lets not used as a sole or main home, alongside new permitted development rights, which will mean planning permission is not needed in areas where local authorities choose not to use these planning controls. The register will not affect hotels, hostels or B&Bs.
Last night the move was welcomed by the former cabinet minister George Eustice, who represents Camborne & Redruth in Cornwall.
“The withdrawal of homes from the residential letting market and the switch towards holiday lets is driving the chronic housing problem in places like Cornwall,” he said. The only viable answer is to create a new ‘change of use’ planning requirement when landlords want to remove homes from the residential market.
“We already have such provisions in commercial retail space in town centres and some rural properties are designated only for use as holiday lets, so it is not a big step to require permission for any change of use in residential homes.”