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MP calls for creation of short-term accommodation license in order to regulate Airbnbs

A York MP has proposed a new law that would regulate all short-term accommodation, including Airbnbs, in an attempt to tackle what she claims is a growing problem involving 'party houses' in family neighbourhoods.

Labour MP Rachael Maskell introduced a Private Members' Bill (Presentation Bill) to Parliament last week that would require a license to convert domestic properties into short-term and holiday accommodation, and give councils the power to issue fines and remove such licences over safety, noise and nuisance concerns.

The bill, The Short-term and Holiday-let Accommodation (Licensing) Bill 2022-23, would also make provision for banning the licensing of such properties in defined geographical areas, give local authorities the power to vary the rates of local taxes in relation to such properties, and give local authorities the power to restrict the number of days per year for which such properties can be let.

Speaking in a parliamentary debate on short-term letting, Maskell said that in York there are about 2,000 Airbnbs and "they are increasingly becoming an issue on the outskirts of the city and in the more rural villages".

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"In the city centre we often find streets - family streets - where there are five or six Airbnbs, and it is having a serious impact," she added.

"Everywhere I go across my constituency, I have constituents come up to me to talk about Airbnbs and holiday lets - or, as they are increasingly being called, party houses."

She also raised concerns that new developments could be a hotbed for 'party houses' because developers, specifically in York, are building predominantly luxury accommodation, leading to many of the properties being bought as investment assets.

Maskell said that in discussions with Homes England regarding a new 2,500 home project in central York, "there was a recognition that [the development could] become a party city right in the middle of York, because local people will not be able to afford to live in those luxury homes".

Cllr Denise Craghill, the executive member for housing and safer neighbourhoods at City of York Council, said: "Unfortunately, as current change-of-use legislation stands, each case has to be pursued on its own individual merits - so any further powers at the national level, whether through planning or a licensing scheme, would be very welcome. In the meantime, I will continue to look into measures we can take locally."

The bill's second reading will take place on 9 December 2022.

Adam Carey

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