Tackle problem party houses let through AirBnB, urge Greens

Learning from Cambridge ‘crackdown’ can prevent worst offenders

Problem ‘party houses,’ used by visitors for events could be tackled using planning law, Greens have said, calling for greater government powers to handle the rise in short-term holiday lets.

Greens say that a growing number of complaints from residents show that short-term holiday lets are becoming an increased problem in the city. In one example from a resident, 28 people were seen leaving a family home designed to house four people, in a property that lacked fire regulations or sprinkler systems. 

Under current legal frameworks, properties used for short-term holiday lets are not subject to regulation. However Greens argue that the city’s housing supply has been damaged by the rise in the short-term let market, raising concerns that many landlords and companies in the city now rent entire properties as holiday lets all year-round, using popular platforms such as AirBnB.

Greens have urged the council to look into a decision made in Cambridge, where the local council’s planning authority found that the use of a property as a short-term holiday let breached planning law.

Condemning the lack of regulation from Government over the issue, Greens say the council must do all it can locally to support residents and explore options for tackling the issue through planning committee.

Councillor Martin Osborne, Green opposition member of the council’s Housing Committee, commented:

“There is a big difference between those who want to rent out a spare room and people buying up family homes to let them out solely for short-term holiday visitors, and who are not required by law to uphold health and safety regulations or to express concern for local policy on noise and littering.

“On top of the impact that renting a property solely as a holiday-let has on our city’s housing supply, the rapid rise of this new housing market leaves residents without any tools to address what happens when a high turnaround of visitors affects their community. It is also almost impossible to address problem properties when so little information is given to local councils on the prevalence and ownership of holiday lets.

“A register will mean we can better identify the properties in our city and work towards targeting the individuals and companies which are presenting the most problems. Though I welcome the attempt by AirBnB to consult with councils on this issue, they are not the only operator in this market – and must conduct a meaningful consultation. We need a visitor economy that is both supportive of tourism, but sustainable for our residents.”

Councillor Mac Cafferty, Green member of the planning committee, commented:

“Councils across the country are desperately keen to increase affordable local housing. Yet the Conservative Government has failed to recognise the threat that the growth in short-term holiday lets poses to the supply of housing. They have also left councils without the powers to tackle so-called ‘party houses,’ which has led to increased complaints from residents about noise and anti-social behaviour.

“An important precedent has been set by other cities in the UK – examples that we now urge the Labour Council to explore. In Cambridge, the council’s planning department managed to argue that letting a property repeatedly as a holiday home meant it was no longer what most of us would call a home. This meant that the law could be used to enforce this. While we wait for the Government to catch up on the scale of the challenge of managing short-term holiday lets, we need to do all we can locally to support residents feeling the effects on their local community.” 


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