Changes in planning permission restrictions in London for Airbnb hosts

by | Jul 18, 2023 | AirBnB London | 0 comments

It’s difficult to imagine a world without Airbnb, even though it has only been 21 years in the making. So many benefits have arisen from this innovative platform both for guests and for hosts. As the infrastructure of the city’s housing market has morphed as a result, it is up to the government and local authorities to strike a balance to safeguard local communities and housing stock from the effects of transient tourism. Data from Inside Airbnb shows that the top host in London owns 260 apartments in the city.  Some businesses are profiting from having 500 listings, something that sits uncomfortably with the lack of residential housing stock in the city and the subsequent impact on the housing and rental markets. 

Airbnb 90-day rule in London 

A current restriction on the rising short-term letting industry catalysed by Airbnb is the 90-day rule which is common in major global cities.  It stipulates that hosts can be flexible with their short-term letting ability in their property up to a maximum of 90 days per calendar year.  Being flexible means, in this case that they do not have to apply for a change of use classification and receive planning permission for that.  Change of use is when a property is changed from a personal residence to one designated as a holiday let or rental property.  Increasingly, properties are bought up and converted into letting properties, which decreases the community cohesion in the area and depletes the housing stock of the city.  Encouraging longer term residents over transient tourists is the aim of the 90-day restriction. 

New changes to planning permissions in London 

Further restrictions are being discussed nationwide with regards to the shortage of housing and rental stock and the deterioration of community value as a result of rising numbers of Airbnb properties in the UK. The Levelling up and Regeneration bill is currently going through Parliament and will focus on these issues. While the 90-day rule only applies in London, there is an option for local authorities nationwide to opt to have a similar restriction in place.  Discussions centre around obtaining planning permission as a requirement to enter the short-term lettings market, even when letting for as little as 30 days a year. In places like Cornwall and Devon, where houses have been snapped up by Londoners and entrepreneurs it is likely that the local authorities will act to maintain stability for their residents over the next generations.  However, the actual dimensions of these restrictions are yet to be established. It is likely that the permitted rental time per year may be reduced, and that Change of Use planning permission is required more readily. 

Understanding Change of Use and Planning Permissions

Key to getting a grip on planning and letting is understanding the different Classes that designate usage in the planning permission scheme. Class C1 describes hotels and designated holiday lets. Class 3 refers to a residential home.  If a host lets out their home or rooms in their home for less than 90 days a year, then they are comfortably within the category of Class 3.  Once they exceed 90 days and if the property is altered for designated letting, then they need to apply for Change of Use and register the property as a Class C1. Houses with Multiple Occupancy are classified as C4. Changing from C3 to C1 requires planning, but often changing from C3 to C4 comes under permitted development. 

Community cohesion  

London has a thriving tourist industry and so many people love to visit, study in, and work in this vibrant, multi-cultural metropolis.  However, it is residents that glue places together, where neighbourhoods thrive, and communities can be established. The longer-term nature of residential life is important for the character and essence of a place. Recent complaints focused on an Airbnb Essex venue demonstrate the negative impact that certain venues can have on their local residents. If you have ever winced at the drunken behaviour of Brits abroad, then you will understand the plight of residents suddenly housing stag and hen nights on their local high street.  While new apartments may have state-of-the-art key safes and cameras, it does not replace the sense of innate security that comes from knowing your neighbours and living side by side in a shared context. 

Striking a balance 

In a recent response to the government’s commitment to safeguard housing and communities through new legislation, an Airbnb spokesperson stressed the need for an evidence-based analysis.  As many families host on Airbnb to supplement the rising living costs it would be important to maintain a balance with this legislation. Remaining within the 90-day rule and keeping a home classified as C3 may be a flexible and easy way to ease certain economic pressures periodically.  However, if that time period was reduced and if people were forced down the route of Change of Use, then they would lose the flexible supplementary income that so many appreciate in exchange for their hosting services. While the legislation sets out to deter property magnates from acquiring their extensive raft of listings, it should also protect those without the financial flexibility to change the usage of what is essentially a residential home. 

Flexibility and short-term letting 

At Anthony Ward Thomas we work with Airbnb hosts who appreciate the flexibility of our services and the flexibility of the model. For some, being able to set up a property as a holiday let and then restore it back to a family home, all within a year can be a very flexible model. Often, people want to get away for a short season and a suitable short-term let can be ideal.  With our removals and storage services and our property services we can handle the practical aspects of a sudden change of use, with your permission, and our experience in planning.  Our team can collect and itemize your personal belongings and store them away for you for a period of time.  If you want us to set up the holiday let interior on your behalf, our dedicated staff will handle the installation.  If you require any redecoration or our property services , we have a team on hand.  When it comes to re-establishing your personal home, we will redeliver your furniture and effects from storage. 

Anthony Ward Thomas- bespoke removals and storage in London 

With years of experience in providing excellent service within London, at Anthony Ward Thomas we specialize in branching into niche areas of expertise.  Our Fine Art logistics team are often engaged in handling works of art, setting up for galleries and auction houses. Our connections with artisan furniture makers on the Continent have blossomed into an international alliance where we are able to supply and ensure unique artifacts are safely delivered in London. Simply put, we are the experts in handling the finest valuables, and we extend that to all our customers, whatever the scope of their move. If you are moving the bare essentials of life from A to B, we will approach it in accordance with our overall policy, which is to provide excellence and care every step of the way.  For the best London can offer in removals and storage, get in touch with our team today.