Stop Turning Homes into Holiday Lets
Stop Turning Homes into Holiday Lets

Headline stats & information 

  • 257,000 short term lets in UK (DCMS estimate 2022)
  • Estimated 20,387 homes flipped to short term lets since I first raised issue in Parliament*
  • More than 1 home per hour being turned into a holiday let in England in 2021 and 2022*
  • Holiday lets have risen by 120% in 3-years in York, with 2,079 active rentals**
  • Almost 1,000 families in York waiting for a home, with many more struggling with rent increases which went up by 11% last year***
  • Constituents regularly contacting me with issues around; repeated and persistent anti-social behaviour, rubbish disposal, parking and lack of affordable local housing


I presented my Holiday Let Licensing scheme Bill last December, which sought to regulate the Short-Term Let (STL) sector, to introduce health and safety standards, tackle pressure on housing supply in tourist hotspots, and address problems with anti-social behaviour.

Although my Bill did not get a full second reading due to limits on parliamentary time, it helped raised the profile of the issue and gained cross party support for regulation. Shortly after, Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities announced that he would work with the Department for Culture Media and Sport on regulation proposals which have now been published and are subject to the current consultations (see below).

The Government’s proposals & current consultation

The Government has published two sets of proposals suggesting the introduction of –

  • New Registration scheme
  • New Planning Use class, and potentially planning controls

The Government has launched consultations on each of these proposals which close on June 7th

Consultation One – Registration Scheme Proposals

The Government is consulting on establishing a STL registration scheme.  They are suggesting a range of options from a very light touch approach where properties would need to meet basic standards and be on a register run by a national body, through to a scheme requiring each property to be listed locally and the introduction of minimum standards, property checks, and fines or even suspensions for breaches of registration.

Full details of the Government’s proposal and consultation response form can be found here

Rachael’s response? I welcome the introduction of a registration scheme in principle, but it must be set up in a way that will meaningfully tackle the issues faced by constituents.  I am pressing for;

  • Local control of the registration process
  • Robust minimum standards
  • Community access to information about STL properties (to help resolve issues)
  • Clear fines, suspensions and other penalties for breaches or repeated breaches of registration terms
  • Kite-mark or grading system to reward good landlords

Consultation Two – New Planning Use Class for Short Term Lets

Again, the Government’s proposals include a range of options.  The key proposal is the introduction of a new planning “use class”, meaning short-term holiday lets (operating over a certain number of night per year) would be categorised as such.  There are some crucial things to note:

  • Current proposal include suggestion that all properties that are operating as STL will be automatically granted the new short term holiday let use class
  • One option being considered is that under a change to permitted development rights, in most cases a change of use from a dwelling house (C3) to a short term let (C5) use class would be automatically agreed
  • If the Government opts for this change to Permitted Development Rights, Local Authorities would be required to prove the number of short term lets in an area are already having an adverse impact on local housing supply, before they would be permitted to refuse the conversion of a home to a holiday let. In this case, Local Authorities could be permitted to apply to suspend this automatic right in areas (using an article 4 direction) but they are suggesting these suspensions should only cover very small areas e.g. one of two streets.

Details of Government proposal and consultation form here

Rachael’s response?  The introduction of a use class could assist with limiting the expansion of STLs in some areas helping to secure local housing supply and relieving pressure on local services.  It could also help ensure businesses are taxed in the right way.  The proposals currently fall short of this.  I am particularly concerned that;

  • The new use class would automatically apply to all properties currently being used as short-term lets, essentially locking in this use. I am concerned this would make it very difficult to address local housing supply issues in areas where short term lets are already having n adverse impact on local housing, particularly in areas where land for new development is heavily constrained e.g. national parks.
  • The Permitted Development rights proposals would mean Local Authorities would only be able to refuse a change of use in an extremely limited area after Local Authorities had established there was already a problem with local housing supply.
  • Many constituents have said they would like more say over whether homes on their streets should be allowed to change to holiday lets, and in most cases these proposals would leave local people with no say in planning terms.
  • The proposals over exclusion zones (article four zones where Local Authorities could refuse an automatic change of use) are far too narrow, meaning Local Authorities couldn’t take action until things were too late, and even then may only move the problem to neighbouring streets

I am pushing for:

  • The new use class should only be brought in if it included some mechanism whereby the use class would automatically revert to being a dwellinghouse if it was sold. To note: as far as I understand it there is currently no precedent for this type of sunset clause in English Planning Law, nonetheless I am asking the Government to explore this.
  • The proposals around permitted development right to change from home to short term lets to be dropped.
  • If they are not dropped, I am pressing for Local Authorities to be able to establish article four areas (where Local Authorities can refuse the conversion of homes to holiday lets) where there is local demand for this, and before housing supply is under pressure
  • Further, that Local Authorities should be able to establish much larger article four areas, so that Local Authorities could set wider areas to remove the risk of just displacing the expansion of holiday lets
  • Also, that the Government must urgently consider whether their permitted development rights proposals would cut across any short term let planning controls on new developments. As things stand, it would seem there is a high risk that as soon as homes on new developments are sold as housing, under these proposals they could be automatically converted to short term lets.  In places like York Central, that could seriously undermine any attempts to increase the supply of housing for local people on new developments.

Next Steps

I will be submitting my consultation responses on June 7th, included in this I will press for a York Pilot Project to test the use of more extensive exclusion zones, and a registration-plus scheme that gives City of York Council the powers and funding to tackle community disruption being caused by STLs.

I urge you to submit your own consultation responses, and please encourage your friends and neighbours to do so too. 

*Generation Rent analysis Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities & VOA data
** Airdna

Rachael Maskell meeting with residents in York
Rachael Maskell meeting with residents in York
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