Labour Councillors again attempted to get local action on the issue of unregulated short-term holiday lets at last week’s meeting of the tourism, equalities, communities and culture (TECC) committee on Brighton & Hove City Council, calling for Council action in the form of a registration scheme.
Unfortunately, Green and Conservative Councillors voted down Labour’s plans for a registration scheme, despite the biggest platform – Airbnb – being on record as welcoming such a system.
Holiday-let listings are more than four times higher than the number of homes to rent in Brighton & Hove according to The Big Issue, which is significantly impacting on the housing crisis we are facing. The rise in short-term holiday lets also impacts on communities, with neighbours often suffering from disruption and noise pollution from ‘party houses’.
The Government has finally announced a review into the regulation of short-term lettings, and we must take this opportunity to demand more regulatory powers such as ensuring safety standards and capping the number of short-term lets, as many similarly blighted cities such as New York, Berlin, and Barcelona have done.
Whilst we welcome the government review, it could be years before it leads to any change but our city is suffering now. That’s why Labour have consistently pushed at TECC Committee and Full Council to not only contribute to the review, but also to use the limited powers we do have to set up a registration scheme in Brighton & Hove to accelerate regulation of this unfettered industry.
Labour’s co-spokesperson for tourism, equality, communities and culture, Cllr Amanda Evans said:
“We are deeply disappointed that Green and Conservative Councillors have again refused to take action locally against the rise of unregulated short-term holiday lets.
“Platforms such as Airbnb were originally developed to enable homeowners to use their spare rooms or whole property for occasional rentals, which on the face of it seems harmless enough.
“However, evidence suggests such platforms are increasingly being used by professional operators. There is a concern that some professional landlords are turning residential properties into letting businesses without the required planning permission. These lets negatively impact the city’s tourist industry as well as causing residents misery, as many are run as multi-property businesses, but without either the taxes or the health and safety regulations that legitimate B&Bs and hotels have to comply with.
“Whilst it’s right that as a council we lobby government for more powers by contributing to the upcoming review, we must also use the limited powers we do have to start improving things now, and not having all the regulatory powers we would like to have is no excuse to sit on our hands and take no action!
“A registration scheme would allow us to gather information on a voluntary basis, and with the help of the biggest platforms, be in a much better position to hit the ground running when we are given the further legal tools to help us regulate this ever growing industry.
“Whilst I’m not surprised the Tories showed no interest in addressing the housing crisis, I was disappointed our Green colleagues didn’t back these plans, since they often ‘talk the talk’.
“The position of the other parties appears to be, ‘because we can’t do much, let’s do nothing at all’.”