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A new use class for short-term lets?

Planning Consultancy

You may have by now seen the news that the Government has published a consultation that seeks stricter rules for holiday lets, but what does this mean for the future of short term lets, second homes, holiday homes and Airbnb’s and what does the consultation tell us?

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has launched a consultation on the introduction of a use class for short term lets and associated permitted development rights in England. The purpose of the introduction of this use class is to ease the housing problem in specific areas where there is a lot of tourism such as coastal towns, national parks and some cities.

The key parts of the consultation include a number of questions relating to the following:

  • Introduction of a new use class for short term lets (referred to as Use Class C5: Short Term Let)
  • New permitted development rights for change of use from a dwelling to a short term let and change of use from a short term let to dwelling
  • Flexibility for homeowners to let out their home for a number of nights in a calendar year – the consultation includes the flexibility of homeowners renting their home between 30 and 90 days
  • Introduction of a planning application fee for the development of new build short term lets

The consultation does acknowledge that in areas where there are no local issues, these changes should not impact on the existing flexibilities for use of a dwelling as a short term let.

What is a ‘short term let’?

The consultation describes a short term let as “Use of a dwellinghouse that is not a sole or main residence for temporary sleeping accommodation for the purpose of holiday, leisure, recreation, business or other travel.” This includes ‘second homes’ that are let out for part of the year (that fall into the definition). It does not include the letting out of a room, for example for a lodger.

What happens with existing properties that are short term let?

The consultation confirms that when the use class would come into effect, existing properties would fall into the short term let use class (Use Class C5) where they meet the definition. Where the definition of short term let is already met, then a property owner would not need to apply for planning permission. It would only be where the existing use is unclear due to individual circumstances that a lawful development certificate may be required.

How would short term lets be monitored?

In tangent with this consultation, a separate consultation is taking place for a short term let registration scheme (open until 7th June 2023). The consultation seeks to introduce a register that will provide local authorities with information about properties being let out in their areas and the locations of high numbers of short-term lets would be identified. There are currently three high level approaches to a registration scheme that feedback is sought which are set out in this further consultation – click here.

What happens if there is a local issue?

The consultation proposes that the permitted development right for the change of use to a short term let may be removed by making an Article 4 direction for that area and planning permission would be required for a change of use – local authorities would have the option to implement this in their area.

What if the property isn’t normally a short term let but the homeowner is going on holiday and wants to rent out their home?

The consultation acknowledges that homeowners may rent their home for when they are on holiday (or for sporting events or other local events). The consultation seeks to restrict the timescales for this and asks for feedback on whether this should be restricted to 30, 60 or 90 days. It also sets out two potential ways that this flexibility could be delivered including an additional permitted development right to allow the use of a dwelling (Use Class C3) for temporary sleeping accommodation for up to a defined number of nights in a calendar year. Or to amend the definition of a dwelling (C3) to include the provision that all homes could be let out for up to a defined number of nights in a calendar year.

These changes could potentially have wide-reaching and unintended implications beyond those that the Government is seeking to solve.  The consultation is live until 7th June 2023.

Click here to participate in the consultation.


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