Action demanded on regulations for AirBnB and other short term lets

Liverpool Lib Dems are asking for proper but light touch regulation of AiRBnB lettings to ensure they do not adversely affect permanent residents, are safe and are properly taxed.

My colleague, Childwall Councillor, Alan Tormey has written to the Secretary of State at MCHLG asking for action on the proliferation of unlicensed and unapproved AirBnB and other similar short let agencies in the City.

In his Letter Cllr Tormey says, “I have absolutely no problem with the idea of people letting out rooms or even whole houses on an occasional basis. However, many of these are located in the City Centre and in some areas dominate the area and specific blocks. 67% of these are whole unit lets and these are almost universally made available for the whole year.

·       Many of these are used at weekends for hen and stag parties and the like;

·       they generate large amounts of rubbish from presents and wrappings and bottles which are over and above the norm for a normal use of such units;

·       they fall into a peculiar grey area about whether they should be charged council tax or business rates;

·       there is anecdotal evidence that in some cases they have been used for prostitution purposes with the prostitute moving on before legal action can commence; and

·       there are concerns that some of the owners do not let the properties in such a way as to pay a variety of legitimate taxes and therefore undercut more established and public establishments.

Cllr Tormey says, “whilst we want to encourage a diversity of accommodation to attract people to our City, we must do so in a way that adversely exists local residents. Having a hen or stag party until 3 in the morning on a regular basis in a next-door property is damaging some people’s lives”.

There are now more than 2,500 such properties in Liverpool of which more than 1,100 are in a very small part of the City Centre. Many of these do not appear to have the regular checks on gas and other services which are required of any landlord.

Please let Cllr Tormey know of you are having any problems with short term holiday and weekend lets at alan.tormey@liverlibdems.org.uk.

Here is Alan’s letter to The Secretary of State

Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP,

Secretary of State,

MCHLG,

2, Marsham Street,
London SW1

7th February 2020

Dear Secretary of State

Re:       AirBnB and other short term lets

I am writing to you to express my concern about the unregulated nature of AirBnB and other short term lets. As a councillor in a weekend break city I have absolutely no problem with the idea of people letting out rooms or even whole houses on an occasional basis as it provides a valuable boost to our tourist economy by introducing a diversity into accommodation available.

I have absolutely no problem with the idea of people letting out rooms or even whole houses on an occasional basis. However, many of these are located in the City Centre and in some areas dominate the area and specific blocks. 67% of these are whole unit lets and these are almost universally made available for the whole year.

This has a number of effects which I list below:

1.     Many of these are used at weekends for hen and stag parties and the like. This means noise, drunken behaviour, and considerable late-night disturbance. For people who have bought as an owner occupier or even as a long-term renter this is incredibly distressful.

2.     They generate large amounts of rubbish from presents and wrappings and bottles which are over and above the norm for a normal use of such units.

3.     They fall into a peculiar grey area about whether they should be charged council tax or business rates.

4.     There is anecdotal evidence that in some cases they have been used for prostitution purposes with the prostitute moving on before legal action can commence.

5.     We have concerns that some of the owners do not let the properties in such a way as to pay a variety of legitimate taxes and therefore undercut more established and public establishments.

I do not believe that this type of use should be banned but it needs controlling and I would suggest the following measures.

i)                 That all whole use properties should need planning permission if they are to be let for more than 70 days a year.

ii)               The properties should be subject to the same safety checks for things like gas heaters and electrical safety as hotels, guest houses and privately rented accommodation.

iii)              Councils should be obliged to run a licensing scheme to ensure that all safety and planning aspects are adequately dealt with and subject to a charge designed not to make a profit but to manage the scheme.

iv)        A central register should be held of such lettable properties by HMRC to ensure that appropriate taxes can be levied by central government.

This proposal would not affect people who either just let out a room or two in their own premises or who occasionally let out their houses but would ensure that professional investors in these proposals are modestly but appropriately regulated for the good of their tenants and the communities within which they operate.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely

Cllr Alan Tormey

Cc:       Wera Hobhouse MP, Lib Dem Spokesperson MCHLG

About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperson on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and four grandchildren.
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