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Gove pledges short-term let restrictions in UK Levelling Up bill

UK: Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, has pledged to bring forward restrictions for short-term lets across the UK as part of the government’s flagship Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill.

Speaking in the House of Commons this week, Gove said that the proliferation of short-term holiday lets and Airbnb listings was  “impeding” the capacity of young workers to live and find jobs close to home, thereby preventing them from contributing to the local economy.

He also suggested that the growth in listings had played a part in the “collapse” of the long-term private rented sector and was limiting available and affordable housing stock for local families and local workers, referring to the Lake District constituency of Westmorland and Lonsdale belonging to former Liberal Democrat leader and MP, Tim Farron.

In December, Gove put forward a proposal containing a set of concessions to around 60 backbench Conservative MPs who were putting pressure on the government to abolish mandatory, new-build housing targets of up to 300,000 new homes a year in the UK by the “mid-2020s”.

In areas where there is considered to be a shortage of affordable properties available for local people and key workers to buy or rent, restrictions on the use of holiday homes and a potential registration scheme for short-term lets are under consideration as part of the concessions by the Levelling Up department.

As the UK Government opened a consultation period on the matter, one suggestion is that landlords could be obliged to submit a ‘change of use’ planning application to local councils if they wish to convert residential properties for holiday letting purposes.

Later in December, the Welsh Government opened a three-month consultation period with a view to implementing a statutory licensing scheme for short-term holiday let hosts and landlords in Wales.

Last summer, The UK Government announced a 12-week review into the impact of short-term holiday lets on popular tourism destinations in England to better understand the opportunities and challenges presented for consumers and tourism communities.

Meanwhile, a new licensing scheme for short-term let hosts came into effect in Scotland in October following multiple rounds of public consultation on how best to regulate the sector.

The Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill was set up by the government to ensure power and jobs are spread more equally across the whole country, not just in more affluent areas such as London.

While former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn argued in favour of rent controls in pressurised areas such as his own Islington North constituency in London, Gove told the House of Commons that it was necessary for more houses to be built to mitigate rising rents and provide greater housing supply for families and workers.