London boroughs express short-term let concerns ahead of summer changes

Authorities in the capital city have voiced their concerns over shortcomings in government plans for regulating the short-term and holiday lets sector, warning they could exacerbate the housing crisis.

This morning, Tuesday 21st May 2024, a letter to housing secretary Michael Gove from London Councils was made public, which highlights the government’s proposal to create a new planning ‘use class’ for properties already used as short-term lets.

a living room filled with furniture and a large window

The new planning rules for short-term let properties were first introduced in February 2019 with an aim to freeing up more affordable housing for locals. They are due to come into place ‘this summer’.

However, the cross-party group have claimed that transferring short-term lets into this new planning category under permitted development rights will see thousands of homes removed from London’s permanent housing stock. London Councils estimates there are at least 43,000 short-term lets in the capital, which is equivalent to one in every 85 London homes.

Although, despite apprehensions, London Councils have welcomed other aspects of the government’s action on short-term lets. This includes introducing a much-needed regulation and oversight of the sector. These include a mandatory national register of properties and continued planning permission requirements for future short-term lets.

Despite this, London Councils argue that reclassifying existing short-term lets into a new planning category – the ‘C5’ use class – without requiring planning permission undermines efforts to preserve homes for residents amid worsening housing pressures and homelessness rates.

Research that was published last year by the cross-party group found a 41% in reduction in the number of London properties available for private rent since the Covid-19 pandemic, although data from the Office of National Statistics shows London private rents increased 7% in the year to 2024 – the highest jump on record – and the new change in planning rules could hinder progress.

Commenting on the news, Cllr Darren Rodwell, of London Councils, said although government plans mean well, the blanket reclassification of existing short-term lets into a new use class could strip the capital of thousands of homes.’

‘For too many years the short-term lets market has been growing out of control,’ Cllr Rodwell said. ‘With housing and homelessness pressures in the capital worse than ever, boroughs are extremely concerned about losing permanent housing stock. The priority has to be ensuring homes are available for long-term residents.’

Cllr Rodwell added: ‘Boroughs are keen to work with ministers on developing these proposals further and ensuring London is better placed to tackle this challenge.’

Image: Robbie Duncan

More on this topic:

London Councils bridge together to avoid ‘bidding wars’

‘No rest until every Londoner safe’ says London Councils on Grenfell Tower anniversary


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