This week in Parliament housing and planning are being debated. I have been working with other MPs representing coastal and tourist communities over several months to press for a new registration system for Airbnb style short lets. The Levelling Up Secretary, Michael Gove, has now agreed to put in place an Airbnb/short let registration scheme for councils.
I raised this issue in Parliament in June, specifically referencing the impact on Deal, after residents from Deal complained to me earlier in the year at both my constituency surgeries and community meetings. As well as Deal, Airbnb/short term lets have been raised by residents of Kingsdown and St Margarets. I have also met with the head of planning at Dover District Council to discuss this issue.
With any new powers, it is right to ask whether any Government or council intervention is needed and how the powers might help. Airbnb, and similar digital marketplaces, have opened up a new way for people to connect with other people who want to rent their home, second home, or holiday home for short periods. A brief search of Airbnb in our local area shows a large number of properties available for short lets, many over £100 a night, even £200 a night. It is popular and well used.
Often an Airbnb might be a night, or two, or three. There have been complaints that is leading to a high turnover of visitors, where, for example, rubbish is put out on the wrong day or strewn across the street. There have been concerns raised about visitors using residential homes as a nightclub, with questions over drugs misuse and anti-social behaviour.
As well as tackling antisocial behaviour and misuse of property, the registration system will begin to create a better understanding of the extent of the Airbnb market and how it is impacting on other markets, like the private rented housing market, hotels and holiday homes.
There are reports of landlords exiting the regulated private rented sector in order to cash in on more lucrative, unregulated, short term lets, and in doing so reducing housing stock available locally for renting.
A register will allow a better understanding of Airbnb lets as against hotels, holiday home and bed & breakfast accommodation. It is important that we consider whether there is a financial or regulatory unfairness to those who are running local professional tourism businesses.
A register of Airbnb style accommodation will also better inform the local tourism strategy. For example, if there is a need for another 500 or 1,000 beds to be provided through additional hotels in our area.
The ability to get products and services through the internet has revolutionised huge swathes of our lives. Airbnbs are a great innovation. However, too much of a good thing can lead to concern and problems. That’s why a registration system will help ensure that we find the right balance for our community.