With the UK’s holiday lets market on the rise, the Government has proposed a review into a number of factors affecting the world of short-term lets. With Airbnb alone reporting a 33% rise in UK listings between 2017 and 2018, and potentially even more in recent years, the market has been on the up for a while now and the government believes that now is time for a review. We’ve dug a little deeper into the proposed review to take a look at what it will cover, the proposed changes and why the review is needed in the first place, as well as whether this could end the ongoing holiday let surge.
What Is This Review For And Why Is It Happening?
The government has called on evidence in a new scheme and review that will look into the effects of short-term holiday lets and the holiday letting market on those living in popular tourist destinations. This review is set to look into the impact that the ongoing growth of the market is having on those who live in tourism towns, including everything from the health and safety of the properties themselves, to increases in anti-social behaviour and noise concerns.
It comes about following a sharp rise of 33% in Airbnb properties in the 2017-2018 years as well as growing reports of challenges faced by locals in these tourist-heavy towns. It’s also been reported that holiday lets, in general, have seen a 40% rise, not least due to the recent country-wide focus on holidaying here at home in the UK.
On the review, tourism minister Nigel Huddleston said:
We’ve seen a huge growth in the range of holiday accommodation available over the last few years. We want to reap the benefits of the boom in short-term holiday lets while protecting community interests and making sure England has high-quality tourist accommodation. While no decisions have been taken, this review will help us work out the options to look at so we can protect our much-loved communities and thriving holiday industry.
Housing minister Rt. Hon Stuart Andrew stated similar reasons for the review, while also claiming that holiday let surges could be affecting housing availability in tourist areas. He stated that:
Holiday let sites like Airbnb have helped boost tourism across the country, but we need to make sure this doesn’t drive residents out of their communities. We are already taking action to tackle the issue of second and empty homes in some areas by empowering councils to charge up to double the rate of council tax. This review will give us a better understanding of how short-term lets are affecting housing supply locally to make sure the tourism sector works for both residents and visitors alike.
All of this suggests that the review has come about as a step in what will hopefully be the right direction for both the tourism industry and housing for UK residents. However, they could have an effect on how landlords of holiday properties have to operate in the future, including the regulations they will have to follow in order to let their properties fairly and legally.
What Does This Review Suggest?
As part of the review, various suggestions have been raised that would hope to improve the holiday let industry and the local areas around them as a whole. Suggestions included a kitemark scheme and safety spot checks that would help to protect visitors and locals alike by ensuring all holiday lets are following the relevant health and safety regulations. The Kitemark scheme would create a way for potential holidaymakers to know they can trust their holiday rental property to be safe and of a livable quality. Registration and further spot checks could be introduced which would not only encourage landlords and owners to keep their properties up to a high quality and adhere to various compliance rules including gas safety but would also help to manage noise and anti-social behaviour coming from these holiday properties.
A further self-certification scheme has also been suggested that would allow hosts to register their property on a central system. This would help to combat the rising concerns in second homes and holiday lets in rural communities leading to a shortage of affordable homes for locals. Councils can better track the properties being purchased or let out as holiday rentals in their towns and areas, ultimately helping to more knowledgeably limit the number of second homes and holiday lets that can be purchased or utilised in smaller or more strained communities. This compulsory register would mean that councils could more effectively charge additional rates of council tax for second homes or change planning laws around certain areas or communities to help ease the strain on the worst affected areas. This could ultimately slow down or stop the holiday let surge in some areas completely.
However, all is not lost for those looking to rent out their homes or spare rooms – the Deregulation Act 2015 is set to be looked at again in order to determine the best ways to protect consumers of all kinds. David Weston, chairman of the Bed & Breakfast Association, states:
It is the right time to consider how we protect all consumers, regardless of an accommodation owner’s business model, and level the playing field between traditional businesses and those on newer platforms.
Marilee Karr of the Short Term Accommodation Association also said:
Short-term and holiday rentals plan an increasingly important role in the English tourism economy by contributing significant numbers of jobs in local communities and generating valuable sources of income for local homeowners and businesses… Any new regulatory solution should recognise this contribution and seek to support the industry as an important part of the wider UK tourism sector.
For those with holiday lets or who are looking to let out their properties in the future, these changes can seem daunting at first glance. However, the government is still in the review stage and none of these changes is set in stone. There is also set to be a central information hub full of guidance and information for landlords that register their holiday lets, which will help you to maintain your holiday let effectively.
In the meantime, getting a good holiday home or Airbnb insurance policy can help keep you protected while these reviews are ongoing. If you need help with finding the right insurance policy for your holiday let, feel free to get in touch with Ashburnham Insurance on freephone 0800 1696137 for more information.