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Graham Awards


Clampdown needed on Airbnb and other short lets - new demand

A body largely consisting of councils wants more controls over Airbnbs and other short lets - and it wants local authorities to have the ultimate say.

The Devon Housing Commission has written to Housing Secretary Michael Gove demanding two key legislative changes.

First, the requirement for registration of short-term lettings, in order to establish the facts. Second, the requirement for a change of use planning consent for any new short-term letting: this would enable each local authority to determine how many more holiday lettings of this kind should be acreated in their area.


The commission is a partnership between 11 local authorities and supported by the University of Exeter. It claims there’s been an increase of over 10 per cent in second homes across Devon since 2021.

It says it wants to limit growth of short-term lets by private landlords and companies, while still enabling people to supplement their income by letting rooms in their own homes.

It says there is widespread concern in Devon at the number of properties being switched from longer-term to short-term lettings, which is severely impacting local people in need of a rented home. 

The Commission believes this switching is a key reason for the fall of 50 per cent in private lettings across the county and by as much as 67 per cent in North Devon

The Commission recommends government should pursue measures to reform current tax arrangements to create what it calls “a more level playing field.

The letter says the commission seeks no changes for any lettings within owners’ own homes and backs the current tax exemption for income from spare rooms in owner occupiers’ properties.

The commission is recommending the creation of a planning Use Class for short-term lettings. Use classes specify the type of property and the intended occupation.

It also recommends local authorities not affected by the change in the letting market should be able to opt out of the registration scheme and the requirement in their area for Change of Use planning consents. This ensures decision making remains with local authorities.

Local authorities involved in the commission are Devon County Council, Exeter City Council, East Devon District Council, South Hams District Council, Plymouth City Council, North Devon District Council, Mid Devon District Council and Teignbridge District Council, West Devon Borough Council, Torridge District Council and Torbay Council.

  • Neil Moores

    I'm beating the same old drum here but the government clearly prefers short term lets over family homes. Otherwise they would not have given more tax relief to holiday and short let providers, on their loan costs, than they do to Home Providers.

  • Roger  Mellie

    Selective licensing might be the ticket, which isn't going to stop anything. To de-clutter planning control the government would likely stick it into PD anyway. There's more at play here, ie tourism which plays a major part in putting money into the local economy, so the LA aren't going to want to lose out on the revenue that brings.


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