New Rules to Balance Holiday Lets & Housing in Rural England

In order to address the escalating housing affordability crisis in rural and tourist-heavy regions of England, the Government has announced a set of measures aimed at regulating the burgeoning holiday let market. These changes promise to balance the scales between fostering a vibrant tourism economy and ensuring local residents can afford to live in their communities.

Under the forthcoming regulations, homeowners will be required to obtain permission from their local council before transforming their property into a short-term holiday let. This change is complemented by the establishment of a mandatory national registration scheme for holiday lets, a development that has been met with broad approval from various stakeholders, including the platform Airbnb.

Importantly, the new rules will exempt homeowners renting out their primary residence for less than 90 nights per year, ensuring that the casual sharing economy can continue to flourish without undue hindrance. Similarly, traditional hospitality establishments like hotels, hostels, and B&Bs will not be subject to these new regulations.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has clarified that while existing short-term lets will be automatically reclassified, only new entrants to the market will need to navigate the planning permission process. This approach aims to strike a balance between curtailing the unchecked proliferation of holiday lets and maintaining the vitality of England's tourism sector.

Local councils are set to play a crucial role under the new framework, equipped with the authority to demand planning permission for short-term lets if deemed necessary to protect local housing availability. This empowerment of local governance aligns with the Government's broader objectives of "levelling up" communities across the country. The new measures are seen as a crucial step towards restoring balance and ensuring that the benefits of tourism do not come at the expense of community sustainability.

Kerry Booth, Chief Executive of the Rural Services Network, has voiced support for the Government's initiative: 

"The Rural Services Network has long advocated for the need to protect rural tenants by empowering local authorities to register and manage both short and long-term rental markets to meet local needs, thereby avoiding the oversupply of holiday lets. We welcome the Government's announcement on changes to planning rules, which will safeguard local residents. We have been campaigning on this issue to ensure that rural residents have access to the rental housing market and can find homes to live in locally."


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