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Airbnb landlords in rural areas may need a licence to offer their homes as short-term holiday lets

Airbnb landlords in rural communities may need to acquire a licence to offer their homes as short-term holiday lets over fears locals are being driven out due to lack of rental properties

  • Second homeowners may need permission to manage short-term holiday lets
  • Proposal is being reviewed following concerns by MPs in popular coastal spots
  • It follows crackdown announced on people abusing holiday home tax loophole
  • Holiday lets must be rented out for at least 70 days a year for business rates


Airbnb owners in rural communities may need to acquire a licence to offer their homes as short-term holiday lets due to fears locals are being driven out due to a lack of rental properties.

A proposal being considered by ministers could force second homeowners to gain consent from their local council to manage short-term holiday lets.

The plan follows Tory MPs in popular coastal spots including Cornwall, Devon and the Isle of Wight raising concerns over the booming industry leading to a lack of affordable housing in their area.

A government source told The Times: ‘It’s clear we need to respond to the way the market has ballooned.’ 

Yesterday the Department for Levelling Up announced a tax crackdown on second home owners who ‘pretend’ to let their properties out to holidaymakers.

From April 2023, holiday lets must be rented out for at least 70 days a year to qualify for business rates under the new rules, which are aimed at benefitting tourist destinations. 

A proposal being considered by ministers could force second homeowners to gain consent from their local council to manage short-term holiday lets (pictured: St Ives in Cornwall)

Selaine Saxby, Tory MP for North Devon, warned during a Commons debate that rising house prices have contributed towards people becoming homeless in her community.

She also said that ‘noise, antisocial behaviour, parties and hot tubs’ at Airbnb lets were causing distress to locals.

And Bob Seely, Tory MP for the Isle of Wight, said the village of Seaview has been ‘effectively stripped out of permanent life’ due to 82 per cent of properties being second homes.

Referring to the latest developments, Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove said: ‘The government backs small businesses, including responsible short-term letting, which attracts tourists and brings significant investment to local communities. 

‘However, we will not stand by and allow people in privileged positions to abuse the system by unfairly claiming tax relief and leaving local people counting the cost. 

‘The action we are taking will create a fairer system, ensuring that second homeowners are contributing their share to the local services they benefit from.’

Yesterday the Department for Levelling Up announced a tax crackdown on second-home owners who 'pretend' to let their properties out to holidaymakers (Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove pictured on January 10)

Yesterday the Department for Levelling Up announced a tax crackdown on second-home owners who ‘pretend’ to let their properties out to holidaymakers (Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove pictured on January 10)

Kurt Jansen, Director of the Tourism Alliance, added: ‘Establishing these new operational thresholds for self-catering businesses is welcomed by the tourism industry as it makes a very important distinction between commercial self-catering businesses that provide revenue and employment for local communities, and holiday homes which lie vacant for most of the year. 

‘It is recognition that tourism is the lifeblood of many small towns and villages, maintaining the viability of local shops, pubs and attractions.’

In 2018-19, three per cent of households in the UK reported having a second home, with the proportion remaining unchanged from 2008-09, according to the Department for Levelling Up.

The most common reason for having a second home is for use as a holiday home or weekend cottage, while 35 per cent say they view it as a long-term investment or income and 16 per cent once used it as their previous home.

An Airbnb spokesperson said: 'We take housing concerns seriously and have already put forward proposals to the government for a national registration system for hosts' (file photo)

An Airbnb spokesperson said: ‘We take housing concerns seriously and have already put forward proposals to the government for a national registration system for hosts’ (file photo)

Overall, 57 per cent of second homes are located in the UK while 34 per cent are in Europe and nine per cent are in non-European countries, according to the latest figures.

In the government department’s English Housing Survey 2018-19, it said: ‘Since 2008-09 there has been an increase in the proportion of second homes in the UK and a corresponding decrease in European and non-European second homes.’

An Airbnb spokesperson said: ‘The majority of hosts share space in their own home and nearly a third say that the additional income is an economic lifeline. 

‘We take housing concerns seriously and have already put forward proposals to the government for a national registration system for hosts. We look forward to supporting the upcoming consultation.’

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