Liberal Democrats say ‘small step’ on Airbnb reform ‘falls short of what is needed’

19 Feb 2024

Local Liberal Democrats gave a qualified welcome to the Government’s plans to introduce restrictions on short-term lets.

“Short-term lets, which have become synonymous with Airbnb, have impacted seriously local housing rental and the wider property market,“ commented Mid Devon Council Cabinet housing portfolio holder, Councillor Simon Clist. “Short-terms lets’ impact in many tourist destinations has been huge, forcing local people out of property and ending their chance to rent locally. Whilst the situation is less acute in Mid Devon it is still a problem. I welcome this plan although it has significant short comings and falls short of what is really needed.”

“I’m pleased the Government has accepted a key part of the Liberal Democrat plan for housing,” said Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Central Devon Mark Wooding. “It recognises the problems caused by so-called Airbnb lets. It will require the change of use to a short-term let to obtain planning permission. It does, however, have a significant ‘loophole’. Such applications are to be considered as a ‘permitted development right’. This means no planning application is required unless a local council has determined that specific areas have permitted development rights removed.

“I note also that existing short-term lets will be exempt from the proposed legislation so there is a real concern that there will be a scramble to turn even more properties into short-term lets. That could see a spike in so called ‘no fault’ evictions by unscrupulous landlords. This would exacerbate the current problem rather than help it.

“It’s a step in the right direction, but it does feel that the Conservatives, as ever, are doing their best not to upset their donors in the property market by addressing the real problem. I’ll be urging my colleagues in Mid Devon and Teignbridge Councils to introduce regulation so that short-term lets can be brought under control.”

“Since we took control of Mid Devon Council in May last year housing has been one of our main priorities,” said Liberal Democrat Council Leader, Luke Taylor. “We’ve made a great start in providing more homes for local people to rent affordably but the whole housing sector needs serious reform. Although it falls short of what is needed, this is a small step in the right direction. There are other significant reforms that are needed not least freeing local councils to play a more significant role in local housing provision. We know what is needed, and where, we don’t need Minister Gove in his London office telling us what to do.”