The DCN has urged Government action to set up a robust registration scheme for short-term lets, which member councils believe are leading to the hollowing out of their communities.
Our call comes in two consultation responses which were submitted to the Government this week.
Councils including Cotswold District Council, Oxford City Council, South Hams District Council and West Devon District Council report that many of their existing properties have become short-term lets in recent years.
This has exacerbated the shortage of affordable housing for permanent local residents, hit businesses because prospective workers cannot find places to live and resulted in less cohesive communities, including by depriving local schools of pupils.
There has also been an impact on council tax revenues and there are concerns about the safety of properties and antisocial behaviour amid reports of ‘party houses’ and even pop-up brothels.
DCN’s response to the consultation on a registration scheme for short-term lets states: “The size of the problem demands comprehensive and urgent action to create a system which can boost tourism without the accompanying economic benefits being outweighed by the loss of much-needed housing for permanent local residents and undesirable social impacts.”
Although we regard the current Government proposal to set up a registration scheme as a step in the right direction we believe the scheme must be a mandatory national scheme and be administered by local authorities.
“An opt-in scheme would be open to manipulation and confusion. It would allow unscrupulous owners to move across administrative boundaries to avoid being regulated,” we say.
We also call for advertisements and listings of short-term lets to be required to display a unique registration number to ensure that councils can easily identify such properties to ensure rules are being followed.
In the second consultation relating to the planning system we offer support to the Government plan to establish a new, separate planning category for short-term lets.
However, we state our opposition to the proposal that dwellings can become short-term lets through permitted development rights, meaning no planning permission is required.
“The Government should be focusing all its efforts on giving councils more tools to regulate the growth of the short-term let sector in a controlled way rather than new policies that loosen control and risk much-needed housing stock being lost for permanent local residents without scrutiny.”