UK: The Manchester Evening News has revealed the city’s council is to trial a scheme preventing people buying any of 1000 new homes on an estate to let on Airbnb and other home-sharing platforms.
The move means every privately-owned residence in the Brunswick area of the city would be covered by a strict covenant that prevents them from being used as primary short-term rental home. That covenant would remain in place regardless of any future sales of the homes, according to the newspaper.
Manchester City Council sees the pilot scheme as a potential precedent for protecting other neighbourhoods in the city from the perceived negative impacts of short-term rentals.
It coincides with Manchester City Council’s commissioning of a report to assess the impact of Airbnb on the city.
The report concluded that the home-sharing platform accounted for at least 75 per cent of the city’s short-term rental market overall, comfortably surpassing other lettings companies.
It also revealed that even though the city centre remained the most popular proposition for short-term rentals in Manchester, council estates such as Moss Side and Benchill near to some of the biggest attractions like Old Trafford and the Etihad Stadium are surging in popularity as Airbnb listing destinations.
Meanwhile, the estate in Ardwick at the heart of the reported £100m PFI (Private Finance Initiatives) project, has among the lowest average incomes in the inner city. The partnership with the S4B consortium is set to lead to the construction of 500 new family homes, 200 for social rent purposes and 300 for sale, with a further 650 properties being refurbished.
Though the scheme was launched back in 2013, the new builds have only just come onto the market in the last eighteen months.
As part of the initiative, the wider neighbourhood will also undergo a regeneration project of its own, with improvements to green spaces, the introduction of an allotment and more shops.
While the council recognises the broader benefits that short-term rentals offer, it wants Brunswick to remain as a family-focused community.
The council said the covenants would ‘prevent properties being sold to private landlords who would likely turn the properties into short-term lets or make available as student homes (Houses of Multiple Occupation)’, with the city’s universities located nearby.
Any sub-letting or short-term letting as a council tenant already constitutes a breach of contract.
The council added that nine such cases had been analysed and three court injunctions obtained, with costs of over £2,60 needing to be paid by residents who were in breach of their covenants.
The latest stage of the PFI project will include the 60-bed Extra Care scheme, which is set to provide high-quality accommodation for older people in case they look to downsize from their family homes.
Councillor Suzanne Richards, Manchester City Council’s executive member for housing and regeneration, told Manchester Evening News: “Brunswick is an important estate regeneration project that will mean the neighbourhood is transformed with hundreds of new homes, new local services and facilities, and much wanted green space.
“However, given the close proximity to the city centre and to the city’s universities, Brunswick is a target for the investor and short-term lets market, so it’s vital we do what we can to protect the community from being broken up by private landlords.
“We need to safeguard family housing in the city and there are lessons we can learn from the Brunswick model. This will ensure that communities can continue to grow as long-lasting, sustainable neighbourhoods.
“And it also means local people are not impacted by anti-social behaviour and potential waste issues that can arise from the more negative end of short-term let businesses,” she added.
In response, Airbnb said that it wanted to ‘make communities stronger and spread the benefits of tourism to local people’ and that it ‘led the way in promoting sustainable home sharing and healthy tourism across the world’.
It added that it would ‘continue to work with local partners on how we can ensure that home sharing continues to grow responsibly and sustainably in Manchester’.
Speaking to the BBC, Airbnb said it had ‘zero tolerance for inappropriate activity’ and it reminds hosts to ‘check and follow local rules’.
It also said that 0.5 per cent of Manchester’s housing accommodation was listed on its site.