Local Authorities across the country are concerned about the implications of the loss of accommodation and an attendant increase in rental levels in property as a result of the growth of AIRBNB . It is interesting to note the approach of various councils across the country as well as to developments that are occurring in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The usual approach for a local authority if it is considering such use in a planning context, it considers whether a material change of use in the property has occurred by virtue of the short-term lettings. This assessment is often carried out by considering the previous use and then the implications of the new use and the authority may consider taking enforcement action if it considers a material change of use has occurred without the necessary planning consent.
In the City of London, local authorities have a specific power introduced by the Deregulation Act of 2015 that provides that if a premises is used for more than 90 days for temporary sleeping accommodation (AIRBNB) it is treated as material change of use which requires planning permission.
In areas outside of London, Local Authorities have responded in some cases with supplementary planning guidance on the basis that such use may be regarded as a material change of use but again this would be subject to an appropriate assessment.
In Northern Ireland the approach has been that if such use is contemplated then it needs a permit from the Northern Ireland Tourist Board or else sanctions can be obtained against the owner.
A recent development in Scotland is the publication of the Planning Scotland Bill which is seeking to include an express provision that planning permission is required for use of a dwelling house for short term holiday lets.
It is clear that it is an issue providing an area for local authorities to consider in the context of loss of valuable accommodation increasing rent levels and how it can regulate it. There are a variety of approaches and it will be interested to know whether a more formalised approach is introduced into England other than the City of London in the near future.