UK government launches formal review of short-term rental market
United Kingdom: The UK Government has announced the launch of a review of the impact of short-term holiday rentals on popular tourist destinations in England to better understand the opportunities and challenges presented to consumers and tourist communities.
The proposed scheme, which aims to improve the vacation rental market for people living in tourist hotspots, could involve physical checks of premises to ensure compliance with regulations in areas such as health and safety, noise and anti-social behavior.
An open call for evidencelasting 12 weeks, was set up to understand how the increased use of rental booking websites and apps is impacting local communities.
Airbnb listing data showed a 33% increase in UK listings between 2017 and 2018, from 168,000 to 223,000 listings.
Other measures being considered by the government include a “kitemark” registration system with spot checks on compliance with the rules on issues such as gas safety, a self-certification system allowing guests to register before to be able to operate, and better information or a single source of guidance defining the legal requirements for suppliers.
Tourism Minister Nigel Huddleston, a speaker at the recent Short Stay Summit at Tobacco Dock in London, said: “We have seen huge growth in the range of holiday accommodation available over recent years. We want to reap the benefits of the short-term holiday rental boom while protecting community interests and ensuring England has high quality tourist accommodation.
“While no decision has been made, this review will help us determine what options to consider in order to protect our beloved communities and our thriving vacation industry,” he added.
Housing Minister Stuart Andrew said: “Holiday rental sites like Airbnb have helped boost tourism across the country, but we need to make sure it doesn’t drive residents away from their communities. We are already taking steps to address second and empty homes in some areas by allowing councils to charge up to double the council tax rate.
“This review will allow us to better understand how short-term rentals affect local housing supply to ensure the tourism sector works for both residents and visitors,” he added. .
Although the government has recognized the benefits of short-term rentals, ranging from an increase in the variety and availability of options to ways in which people can earn money by renting spare rooms and properties, he said he was acting on the fears of local communities where housing supply may be limited and property prices are rising, as well as concerns about an increase in anti-social behavior including noise, waste and drunkenness. Additionally, the government wants to ensure higher protections for customers where there are concerns about the neglect of health and safety regulations.
The review will also examine the operation of provisions in London under the Deregulation Act 2015 to allow action to be taken against anti-social behaviour, while allowing Londoners to rent their accommodation.
David Weston, Chairman of the Bed & Breakfast Association, the UK trade association for owners of bed and breakfasts, B&Bs and small family hotels, said: “We are delighted that the government is issuing this call for evidence. . Now is a good time to think about how we protect all consumers, regardless of a hosting owner’s business model, and to level the playing field between traditional businesses and those on new platforms.
“The call for evidence will help government strike the right balance between achieving these goals, while avoiding disproportionately imposing new burdens or costs on small businesses.
“We will play a constructive role in helping the government develop a proportionate solution, and we call on all tourist accommodation owners to participate in the call for evidence and ensure your views are heard.” he added.
Merilee Karr, President, UK Short Term Accommodation Association [STAA]and Founder and CEO, Under The Doormat, said: “STAA is pleased to be able to contribute to the call for evidence on short-term rentals and holiday accommodation in England, announced today by DCMS. [Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport]. Short-term and holiday rentals are playing an increasingly important role in England’s tourist economy, creating significant numbers of jobs in local communities and generating valuable sources of income for local owners and businesses.
“Any new regulatory solution should recognize this contribution and seek to support the industry as an important part of the wider UK tourism sector. As an industry, we look forward to working with DCMS to ensure that a solution simple and cost-effective regulatory framework is found that takes into account the needs and benefits for communities, and helps landlords to rent properties that would otherwise sit empty.
“We are pleased to hear that the UK government is committed to finding a solution that strikes the right balance, and we look forward to sharing our ideas and thoughts on practical solutions with policy makers,” she said. added.
The launch of the consultation period is part of a commitment made by the government in June 2021 with the publication of its Tourism Recovery Plan in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. It is now set to crack down on second home owners who rent out their second homes on rental platforms, having previously sought to close tax loopholes and introduce higher stamp duties.
In recent months, the devolved administrations of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales have set legislation or declared their ambitions to establish a licensing system through their national tourist boards.
Across Europe, anyone wishing to advertise and offer accommodation in Portugal must now register electronically before doing so, while Greece and parts of Ireland are tightening their requirements for hosts rent their accommodation on a short-term basis.
Meanwhile, Airbnb has reiterated its commitment to stricter industry regulation and anti-social behavior, and says it welcomes proposals for a host registration system following a number of serious incidents in Properties. Earlier this week, the home-sharing platform announced a permanent ban on parties and unauthorized gatherings on its listings.
The government calls on all parties, including hosts, online platforms, hosting companies and local authorities, to submit their views as evidence to inform all future steps for the sector.