UK PM Sunak pledges commitment to short-term let registration scheme

UK: UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has pledged his commitment in Parliament to introducing a short-term let registration scheme in England in the near future.

Responding to a question from Conservative MP Nickie Aiken about whether he was still considering implementing a registration scheme to help councils “properly manage this growing sector”, Sunak said that levelling up secretary Michael Gove was fully behind plans to deliver a new tourist accommodation registration scheme, enabling the government to “better understand and monitor the impact of short-term lets on local communities”.

He also confirmed that the government was planning to consult on whether specific planning permissions should be required for new holiday let properties in popular tourist destinations across the country.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, which has been campaigning for a registration scheme in England, said: “I’m very pleased to hear the prime minister commit to delivering a tourist accommodation scheme that will include short-term lets and it is clear recognition that the government has listened to the concerns raised by UKHospitality. It’s essential that this registration scheme can be properly enforced and can help bring short-term lets up to the high standards of our hotels, which abide by strict fire safety, health and safety, and accessibility rules.

“A registration scheme that can deliver this not only levels the playing field across our accommodation outlets, but also delivers huge guarantees and benefits for the consumer too. It’s crucial that the entire sector is operating to the same standards, for the good of business, the economy and the customer, and we look forward to working with the Levelling Up Secretary on it,” she added.

The news came after it was revealed that Gove had put forward a proposal containing concessions to around 60 backbench Conservative MPs who have put pressure on the government to abolish mandatory, new-build local housing targets.

Two weeks ago, a vote was held in the House of Commons on proposals to build up to 300,000 new homes a year in the UK by the “mid-2020s”, although significant Tory backbench opposition led to the matter being dropped. Since then, Gove has written to dissenting MPs claiming that the 300,000 houses figure would be “advisory” instead of a target, ensuring that local councils would have the power to reject applications for new homes if they believed that they would significantly alter the local character of an area or have a damaging effect on communities.

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.

Meanwhile in Ireland, the Irish Government had approved the drafting of a registration scheme as part of the Short-Term Tourist Letting Bill and the publication of the General Scheme of the Bill, following years of debate. Under the prospective new register,  short-term accommodation providers providing lodging for up to and including 21 nights will need to be registered with Fáilte Ireland [the National Tourism Development Authority] or face fines of up to €5,000.

A registration scheme is also under consideration in Wales, while the Scottish Government has decided to delay its own licensing scheme deadline.