Brighton
Drug dealers are reported to be operating in holiday lets in Brighton

Drug dealers “using short-term lets in Brighton”

UK: Sussex Police have issued a report warning the public about an increasing number of cases of illegal activities being undertaken in short-term holiday lets in Brighton and Hove.

The report into issues with holiday lets will be put to Brighton and Hove City Council’s Tourism, Equalities, Communities and Culture Committee [TECC] meeting next Thursday 5 March.

Among the allegations published in the report are those concerning drug supply and anti-social behaviour [such as noise complaints] originating from short-term holiday lets in the city.

Over the last two years, the city council‘s environmental protection team has received 12 complaints about noise disturbance from holiday lets, while a further two cases were sent to the authority’s anti-social behaviour and casework team, according to the Brighton Argus.

CThe exact number of holiday lets located within Brighton and Hove and the surrounding area is difficult to determine as hosts are not required to register their property within the city. East Sussex Fire and Rescue estimate the figure to be approximately 1700 entire homes available for short-term letting and an additional 1000 for travellers to share rooms in a host’s home.

In addition to Airbnb, a number of companies operate holiday lets within the city, including major OTA Booking.com and local independent firms such as Brighton Getaways.

Hosts are liable for civil action if and when a guest in their property is behaving in a manner that is deemed to be “persistent, anti-social, disorderly, offensive or criminal behaviour”, including when they are producing excessive noise.

The topic of so-called “party houses” has been raised regularly in recent times both in the UK and abroad, with a shooting at a rental property just outside San Francisco highlighting the dangers and flaws in security when guests are not fully vetted before their stay.

Meanwhile, in Bath, local residents called for the government to introduce new rules so that “party houses” would not emerge in quiet neighbourhoods in the city.

The report read: “It is recognised that whilst many short-term holiday lets in the city do not have a major impact on the quality of life of local residents, some of the larger properties can and have done.

“Legislation to deal with issues can be used more effectively to address some of the issues such as noise and anti-social behaviour. However, each case must be looked at on a case-by-cases basis and in some circumstances enforcement action will not be possible.

“A local registration scheme will not allow for additional enforcement powers although it will allow for a better understanding of where these properties are located,” it added.

According to the local newspaper, the TECC committee is expected to agree officers can use their “existing powers to investigate and respond to complaints about short-term holiday lets, while coordinating with other services”.

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