AirBnb says proposed changes to short let rules in Wales should be aimed at property speculators, not ordinary people.
The Welsh Government this week announced that councils will be able to control numbers of second homes and holiday lets.
There will also be a licensing scheme for home owners and landlords who want to operate short lets, such as AirBnbs.
There will be three new classes of property in the Welsh planning system: a primary home, second home and short-term holiday accommodation.
There are also powers to be given to councils to apply for higher Land Transaction Tax (the Welsh version of stamp duty) on second homes and short lets. It has already been agreed that Welsh councils can charge up to a 300 per cent premium on council tax on homes that aren’t occupied all year round.
Now AirBnb has responded, saying it wants to be part of a “solution” to “the historic housing and tourism challenges facing Wales”.
It urges politicians to acknowledge that not all accommodation providers are the same.
A statement says: “There is a big difference between buy to let speculators and Hosts who occasionally share their homes on Airbnb to afford the rising cost of living.”
And it describes income from AirBnb as “an economic lifeline for thousands during one of the greatest economic challenges in decades.”
The platform concludes: “AirBnb looks forward to working with the Welsh government on rules that unlock the benefits of hosting for regular people while clamping down on speculators and big businesses that drive housing concerns and overtourism.”
There has also been tourist industry criticism of the Welsh Government plans for business rates on properties to let.
Currently, properties available to let for a minimum of 140 days in any 12-month period, and actually let for at least 70 days, pay business rates rather than council tax. But from April 2023, properties must be available to let for at least 252 days and actually let for at least 182 days in any 12-month period to qualify.
If an owner cannot meet these thresholds, then they will be required to revert to paying council tax.
However, holiday let owners argue that the 182-day rule is unfair and unrealistic for most owners due to seasonality - many areas get few if any bookings in the autumn and winter periods.
Ashford Price, secretary of the Welsh Association of Visitor Attractions, believes around 1,400 businesses are now at risk as a result.
Price tells local media in Wales: "From April 2023 the Welsh Governments 'utopian’ future for those still left in self-catering in Wales will be like working under rules reminiscent of a 'Stalinist Regime' where you are told the number of days your business ‘must’ be open for (252 days.), the number of letting days your business ‘must’ reach (182 days) - which is an unobtainable figure for the majority of operators in Wales, and finally the ‘punishment’ if your business fails to meet any of these new government demands is an increase of up to 300 per cent in your rates bill.”