Government announces planning changes and registration scheme for holiday lets

Planning permission will be required for future short-term lets.

Related topics:  Finance News,  Holiday let
Rozi Jones | Editor, Barcadia Media Limited
19th February 2024
holiday home summer btl buy-to-let
"The holiday let industry is not responsible for the housing crisis. Its causes run far deeper than that and are centred mainly on a lack of housebuilding and the abandoning of housing targets."
- Andy Fenner, CEO of the Short Term Accommodation Association

The government has introduced new rules for short-term lets, meaning planning permission will be required for future holiday let properties.

Following an initial consultation last year, the proposed planning changes would see a new planning ‘use class’ created for short-term lets not used as a sole or main home. Existing dedicated short-term lets will automatically be reclassified into the new use class and will not require a planning application.

The government also intends to introduce associated permitted development rights – one allowing for a property to be changed from a short-term let to a standard residential dwelling, and a second that would allow a property to be changed to a short-term let. Local authorities would be able to remove these permissions and require full planning permission if they deem it necessary.

The government is also introducing a new mandatory national register to give local authorities more information about short-term lets in their area.

Both of these measures are focussed on short-term lets, and therefore the planning changes and the register will not affect hotels, hostels or B&Bs.

As part of the new rules, homeowners will still be able to let out their own main or sole home for up to 90 nights throughout a year without planning permission and the government says it is considering how to apply the register so it does not apply disproportionate regulation for example on property owners that let out their home infrequently.

Further details of these measures will be set out in the Government’s response to the consultations, including the timeline for implementation of the register, the use class and the individual permitted development rights - with the changes being introduced from this summer.

Secretary of State for Levelling Up Housing and Communities, Michael Gove, said: "Short-term lets can play an important role in the UK’s flourishing tourism economy, providing great, easily-accessible accommodation in some of the most beautiful parts of our country.

"But in some areas, too many local families and young people feel they are being shut out of the housing market and denied the opportunity to rent or buy in their own community.

"So the Government is taking action as part of its long-term plan for housing. That means delivering more of the right homes in the right places, and giving communities the power to decide.

"This will allow local communities to take back control and strike the right balance between protecting the visitor economy and ensuring local people get the homes they need."

However, industry experts were critical of the new policies, arguing that the government is scapegoating holiday lets for the housing crisis.

Andy Fenner, CEO of the Short Term Accommodation Association, commented: “We’ve been calling for a registration scheme for years, so it’s disappointing that when it finally arrives it completely fails to address the challenges the country is facing. The registration scheme could have been game changing for tourism in England had it covered all types of accommodation but, instead, what we’ve got is a missed opportunity that’s a half-way house at best. Had it been that comprehensive, politicians up and down the country would have been able to make well-informed decisions on planning. They’d have been able to see exactly how the tourist industry functioned in their local area, which is important because a one-size-fits-all approach that achieves the right balance in one place would crush the tourism in another.

“Instead, the holiday let industry is doomed to continue being unfairly regarded as tourism's problem child, second-best to hotels, and unjustly taking the brunt of the blame game surrounding housing supply and affordability, despite the lack of a proper evidence base. The presumption is that, if you shut down all short term rentals tomorrow, the housing crisis would be solved but that is naive in the extreme. The holiday let industry is not responsible for the housing crisis. Its causes run far deeper than that and are centred mainly on a lack of housebuilding and the abandoning of housing targets. Short term lets are the modern, dynamic face of the tourism industry and we can’t force people into B&Bs and hotels through legislation. If we did, UK tourism would suffer as people voted with their feet and went elsewhere. The world has moved on, and many tourists don’t want to settle for that any more.

"Restrictions in the number of short term rentals need to be measured against other important factors, such as employment, housing supply, housing need, and changes in the stock of other tourist accommodation. We will continue to call for a comprehensive registration scheme that includes all types of accommodation. Without this, the new powers councils are winning, which will allow them to rein in holiday lets using an effective veto on permitted development rights, will be prone to misuse and political posturing rather than a desire to do what is in the best interests of local communities.”

Matthew Lesh, director of public policy and communications at the Institute of Economic Affairs, added: “The government is scapegoating holiday lets for the housing crisis. Britain’s restrictive planning system, by not allowing enough homes to be built, is the real reason people cannot afford to live in their own communities.

“A national registration scheme and requiring permission to use one’s own property for holiday lets will not fix anything. But it will add to Britain’s red tape nightmare and could end up doing more damage to local communities by hurting their tourism economy.”

More like this
to our newsletter

Join a community of over 30,000 intermediaries and keep up-to-date with industry news and upcoming events via our newsletter.