Council Motion: Airbnb

Innovation in how property can be rented have expanded market and created opportunities for individuals to make a legitimate second income. However, the growing market for ‘party houses’ can give local councils a headache. Houses rented only for a short time, with the aim of having a large party and leaving the resulting mess behind have the potential to damage both the landlords and the local area. The following motion aims to tackle these issues.

Council notes:

1.       Concerns which have been raised by residents and local businesses about the growth in unregulated short term holiday lets in Bath and North East Somerset.

2.       Discussions, which are ongoing, at the Bath City Forum and the Planning, Housing and Economic Development PDS Panel.

3.       The negative impacts of unregulated lets, which may include:

a.       The impact on neighbours of larger so-called ‘party houses’, including noise, poor waste management and inappropriate or antisocial behaviour.

b.      The impact on the local housing market with fewer properties available for rent and knock on effects on traffic congestion.

c.       The impact on the licenced hotel and guest house/B&B sector.

d.      Potential risks to visitors for example due to the lack of fire safety inspections.

4.       Current projects being undertaken by the Council including updates to the Local Plan and Visitor Accommodation Strategy.

Council resolves to:

5.       Request that the Leader of Council writes to the appropriate government ministers and to the MPs for Bath and North East Somerset calling for:

a.       A change in planning laws to create a change of use classification for short term holiday lets, similar to that used for HMOs.

b.      Powers to enable Councils to apply an enforceable exception to such a classification allowing use of residential premises as temporary sleeping accommodation for up to 90 days, as is the case in Greater London.

c.       Consideration to be given to whether such residential premises used as businesses should be brought under the business rates system, which would benefit local services.

d.      A licensing regime for short term holiday lets, as with small HMOs, to improve safety and quality for visitors and to enhance management practices so as to benefit neighbours.

An alternative motion on the same issue can be found below:

We were recently asked for any motions on Air BnBs and other similar short let accommodation. You may be interested to see the motion passed (cross-party) last year by Bath and North East Somerset Council:

Council notes:

1.  Home-sharing services are often attractive to tourists and they provide direct income to host households.  However, regulation has been slow to keep up with the growth in these services and the impact they have on both the housing market and on amenity issues for residents;

2.  In Bath and North East Somerset, we are experiencing a housing crisis, yet at the same time, properties are being removed from the private rental market as the earnings from short-term lettings can prove lucrative to landlords;

3.  The difficulty in obtaining accurate figures around short-term lettings as there is no requirement to notify the Council of an intention to use a property in this way. 

4.  A report by the London Assembly which highlights recent changes to legislation allowing the short-term letting of whole residential properties for up to 90 days in a calendar year in London but that the report also identifies a need for additional measures to enable London authorities to investigate and effectively enforce the new legislation.

5.  The B&NES Visitor Accommodation Study which this Council has commissioned to help provide evidence for the Local Plan includes considering the extent of and growth in short-term holiday lets and the implications and problems of short-term lets in relation to, for example, both the housing stock and the operation of other forms of visitor accommodation.

6.  The Leader of Council has written to the Minister asking for a new use class to be introduced for short-term lets so that they are differentiated from dwelling houses.

7.  The owners of properties available for short-term lets for up to 140 nights per year are liable for Council tax.

8.  The Planning, Housing & Economic Development Policy Development& Scrutiny Panel is due to discuss short term holiday lets at its September meeting, which will provide an additional opportunity for public engagement and evidence gathering.

Council believes that:

9.  There is a need to find effective solutions which allow legitimate home-sharing to continue while at the same time addressing the widespread concern about the growing professionalised sector.

10.Bath & North East Somerset should be able to benefit from a change in legislation in the way that London has, and that, at the same time, the lessons should be learnt from the London experience with additional measures and resources to support enforcement of any new law.

11.There isn’t a level playing field when hoteliers and registered B&Bs running legitimate businesses must comply with health and safety rules and licensing rules and contribute to the Council funds with business rate payments whilst ‘Short Term Lets’ do not.

12.This discrepancy could have implications on the health and safety grounds.

13.The increase in Party Houses is having a detrimental impact on communities.

14.Residential properties are lost to the tourist industry when they are badly needed for families.

Council agrees therefore to ask the Leader of Council to:

15.Continue discussions with the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government asking for:

a.  A change in the law around short-term lets, limiting the short-term letting of whole residential properties to 90 days in a calendar year;

b.  Other legislative measures such as a change to the use classes order, to make short-term holiday lets its own specific use class so that they are differentiated from dwelling houses;

c.  The resources and tools needed to ensure that the costs of implementing any new legislation do not fall on Council taxpayers and to enable effective enforcement including, but not limited to, the introduction of a requirement that short-term lettings hosts must register with the Local Authority and that home-sharing platforms must share details of property owners suspected of breaching any new requirements;

d.  Support with the creation of an ombudsman by the home-sharing platforms paid for by the industry to address home-sharing fraud, help with enforcement, resolve disputes and investigate complaints.

e.  Assurances that the costs of implementing any new legislation do not fall on Council taxpayers;

f.  Tools to enable effective enforcement such as the introduction of a requirement that short-term lettings hosts must register with the local authority and that home-sharing platforms must share details of property owners suspected of breaching any new requirements;

g.  The introduction of a licensing and registration scheme to enable effective monitoring and control of anti-social behaviour and the use of enforcement powers where appropriate;

h.  The same regulatory framework for short-term lets and other forms of visitor accommodation;

i.  Any future Tourism Levy to apply to short-term lettings;

j.  An extension to the defined exemptions for “sole or main residence” within the Housing Act 2004 to include properties wholly used as short-terms holiday lets, thus enabling them to be subject to a licencing scheme.

16.Write to Housing Associations asking them to remind their tenants that they must not sub-let their homes.

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