Plans to tackle problems with Airbnbs and other short-term lets are being brought forward by the government as part of its flagship Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, Michael Gove has said.
Changes aimed at restricting “the way that homes can be turned into Airbnbs” are being introduced as the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said he acknowledged a problem with holiday lets preventing younger workers from living and finding jobs close to home.
Problems caused by large numbers of holiday lets and Airbnbs in Liberal Democrat Tim Farron's Lake District constituency were highlighted by the MP.
Airbnb allows homeowners to rent part or the whole of their property to holidaymakers.
“In the Lakes and the dales of Cumbria we have 63 per cent of our employers operating below capacity because there aren’t enough workers in the area,” the Westmorland and Lonsdale MP told the Commons.
“The big problem for us — which I know he is seeking to tackle — is the collapse of the long-term private rented sector.”
“Could he give me some assurance of when this government will change planning law to allow communities like mine to control our housing stock so there are enough homes, affordable and available, for local families and local workers?”
“Of course we want to have a labour market that works, and of course we want to have a tourism sector that works,” Mr Gove replied.
“But there is a problem in the private rented sector, particularly in beautiful parts of our country like those which he represents, where we do have homes which are turned into Airbnbs and into holiday lets in a way that actually impedes the capacity of young workers to find a place where they can stay in the locale that they love and contribute to the economy of which they wish to be part.”
“We will be bringing forward some planning changes to the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill which are intended to ensure that we have restrictions over the way that homes can be turned into Airbnbs,” he added.
The bill, aimed at laying the foundations for the government’s plans to spread power and jobs across the country, is undergoing line-by-line scrutiny in the House of Lords.
Ministers could introduce amendments to the legislation to deal with short-term lets as peers continue to consider it.
As the House of Commons continued to debate the spring budget, former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called on the government to bring in rent controls and said rising rents are “devastating in inner city areas” like his Islington North constituency.
But Mr Gove said more houses need to be built instead, adding: “A rent freeze, while often attractive, has — as we have seen in Scotland — unfortunately the effect of reducing the supply of rented homes, and therefore it would seem to me that while I know his heart on this issue is in the right place, the methods that he is proposing would run counter to what we both want to see.”