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Short-term lets could lead to loss of private rent properties, CIH warns

Words: Laura Edgar
AirBnb / Shutterstock_474258127

Private rented homes could be lost to the ‘rapidly growing’ short-term lets market, the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) has warned. If unregulated, this would lead to the displacement of long-term residents from their communities.

The UK Housing Review 2019 suggests that Airbnb alone has more than 77,000 lets in Greater London, 55.4 per cent of which are entire homes. The bulk of the properties are concentrated in Westminster, Tower Hamlets, and Hackney boroughs, with 8,328, 7,513 and 5,907 respectively.

CIH’s review highlights that the Scottish capital has more than 10,000 short-term let properties, with the city centre having two Airbnb properties for every 13 homes. Rural areas are also being hit, with the Isle of Skye having one Airbnb property for every 10 houses.

CIH says the concentration of short-term lets in certain locations has created "globalhoods - ultra-desirable neighbourhoods drawing in visitors from across the globe at an ever-increasing rate".

The potential impacts of this growth in short-term lets include non-compliance by hosts with existing regulations, such as planning permission and fire safety, and the loss of communal spaces and facilities. Local housing markets are also affected, with both rents and property values rising.

CIH suggest a number of solutions to tackle these problems, such as:

  • Introducing caps through the planning system by local authorities on the number of short-term rentals in particular high-pressure areas.
  • Ensuring that better data exists on short-term lets, so that local authorities can keep track of their growth and location.
  • Introducing a modest local tourism tax to assist local authorities in the monitoring and regulation of the short-term lettings sector.

Terrie Alafat CBE, chief executive at the CIH, said: “Digital platforms like Airbnb have brought great convenience to tourists who come to enjoy our cities and communities, as well as economic benefit to their hosts and local areas. However, if left unregulated there is a real risk of loss of much-needed housing from the private rented sector to the short-term lets market, and displacement of long-term residents.

"We need to find a way to accommodate the housing needs of individual residents while allowing tourism to continue in our most popular locations. More regulation could be necessary if growth continues and local authorities still have no way to accurately monitor numbers.”

Professor Alasdair Rae, who works in the urban studies and planning department at the University of Sheffield, produced the analysis on behalf of the CIH.

Image credit | Shutterstock