Second-home owners face Airbnb BAN as Michael Gove plans crackdown on holiday lets

Second home owners could be barred from renting them out on hotel websites such as Airbnb, it has been revealed.

The move is being considered as part of a crackdown on short-term lets driving up house prices to unaffordable levels in areas popular with tourists.

Levelling-up Secretary Michael Gove is devising the plans, which would give powers to regional mayors to curb the numbers of people renting out holiday homes.

The proposal also contributes toward the government’s devolution programme granting more powers to local authorities, The Times reports.

The amendment to the Levelling-Up and Regeneration Bill would force anyone planning to rent out their home short-term to seek planning permission under change of use.

Bob Seely, Conservative MP for the Isle of Wight, said: ‘We have got to find a way of protecting communities and we are in the market for sensible ideas that can help.

‘Places like Devon, Cornwall, the Isle of Wight and the Lake District have lived too long with the problem of hollowed-out communities devoid of life apart from a few months of the year.

‘What we need is creative ideas to solve some of these problems.’

In January, the Scottish Parliament passed legislation allowing local authorities to set up a fee-paying registration scheme for owners to rent out properties on sites such as AirBnb. The same councils can also designate planning rules in areas, requiring change of use.

Last September, Cornwall Council revealed that almost 62% of a total £170million business support claimed by second home-owners during the pandemic went to landlords living outside the county

Liberal Democrat councillor Andrew George demanded the sums should be paid back by those using their Cornish homes as an ‘investment or leisure toy’.

Deputy leader of the council, David Harris, agreed – calling the benefit ‘just wrong and unfair’.

The same meeting heard 13,255 second homes were recorded on Cornwall Council’s council tax database with 11,081 holiday lets registered for business rates and 8,953 getting business rates relief.   

Statistics reveal that although Cornwall has just one percent of England’s population, it has 17 per cent of the country’s second homes.

Conservative MPs are warning that issue of second homes is now so prescient among their voters living in seaside and rural retreats, it could decide the party’s performance at the next general election.

While concerns over holiday homes driving up house prices have been widely reported for years, experts say a boom in online bookings for UK getaways after the pandemic has exacerbated the issue.

Escape to the country: House prices of £2million properties in rural areas rise by the fastest rate in a decade

House prices of £2million properties in rural areas have risen by the fastest rate in a decade as wealthy people in cities hunt for countryside retreats across the UK.

Homes in the southwest, the Cotswolds and Scotland were the most popular as well as luxury properties in Devon, Cornwall, Dorset and Norfolk. 

While countryside homes like these have increased in value by an average of £111,000 (5.5 per cent), a similarly priced flat or house in central London went down in value by an average of £8,000 (0.4 per cent) last year.

Savills researchers believe the change in house prices came as the coronavirus lockdown meant people ‘sought a lifestyle shift and recognised the relative value on offer’.

The price shifts were recorded in the Savills prime house price index, which noted last year saw the biggest growth since 2010.

In the rest of the prime London market (defined as the top five per cent of the market), where £2million would typically secure an additional 1,000 square feet of accommodation and more garden space, gains averaged £36,000.

Lucian Cook, Savills head of residential research, said at the time: ‘The unique circumstances of 2020, have led to a surge in market activity at the top end of the housing market.

‘This has supported prices and delivered some unexpected gains, but it hasn’t resulted in runaway price growth.’