Airbnbs in Margate ‘damage’ community as Thanet council urges 90-day limit

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Urgent action is needed to end the “damaging” impact Airbnbs are having on a popular coastal location, residents say.

Residents, business owners and long-term renters are warning that the huge growth in the number of people buying properties in Thanet specifically for vacation rentals is “killing the community.”

They claim that residents of the area have to relocate due to the lack of long-term rental housing or the significant costs involved.

There are currently over 300 Airbnbs available in Margate – compared to just 15 rental properties advertised on Rightmove.

Meanwhile, in Tonbridge, which at age 11 has the fewest “fully owned” Airbnbs in Kent, there are 36 homes available for rent.

The issue has been highlighted in a motion due to be brought by Margate councilor Rob Yates to Thanet District Council next week.

In it, he calls for the introduction of rules to tackle the “serious problem”, in particular by limiting the nights occupied for all Airbnb rentals to 90 per year.

The Old Town district of Margate is a popular Airbnb destination
The Old Town district of Margate is a popular Airbnb destination

Such measures were introduced in Greater London five years ago to free up much needed housing stock.

According to Cllr Yates, unless something similar is done in Thanet, locals will no longer be able to find long-term accommodation to rent and will have to relocate.

“Someone who wants to rent their spare room for Airbnb is not a problem; these are people who buy properties and then rent everything on Airbnb,” he said.

“They are not part of the Margate community, they are using Margate as an investment opportunity.”

Cllr Yates warns Thanet will end up like Newquay, with empty properties in towns for half the year.

Cllr Rob Yates Makes Motion on Airbnbs
Cllr Rob Yates Makes Motion on Airbnbs

He also says that as businesses in prosperous cities grow, more staff are needed, but there are fewer places to live.

In his motion – which he says garnered support from everyone he spoke to – he highlights concerns expressed by residents about the growth of Airbnbs, especially regarding downsizing of properties. long-term rental.

“We welcome the majority of visitors to Thanet, who make a significant contribution to our economy, but we hear the concerns of residents and want to take action to control this serious issue, which is hurting our community and Airbnb’s reputation.” , did he declare. noted.

“This council recognizes that it currently does not have the powers to intervene and regulate these properties, and that this is an issue facing many local authorities across the country.”

In the motion, he calls for planning restrictions affecting short-term rentals to be introduced, such as change-of-use regulations that are required in London to turn a property into an Airbnb.

The Margate Arts Club recently sparked a debate on the issue with this post
The Margate Arts Club recently sparked a debate on the issue with this post

He is also asking Thanet’s head of council Cllr Ash Ashbee to write to Marie Lorimer, UK public policy manager at Airbnb, to request a meeting and seek to introduce a 90-day annual limit on the rental of entire homes in Thanet. within the platform. .

Cllr Yates says the competition for long-term tenants is too strong and something needs to be done.

The Margate Arts Club recently sparked the debate on its Instagram page by posting “Airbnb is killing our community,” which won support from business owners and residents, including tenants who commented on how difficult it is to find accommodation to rent.

The club says the effects of buying properties for the sole purpose of renting them out as a vacation home are devastating for communities and independent businesses.

“The holidays force house prices / rent to go up and full-time residents to come out,” he said.

Whitstable is another popular Airbnb destination, with over 300 units available, compared to just 17 rental units on Rightmove.
Whitstable is another popular Airbnb destination, with over 300 units available, compared to just 17 rental units on Rightmove.

“We don’t want dead zones or a seasonal city. Berlin and Barcelona have felt the devastating effects of Airbnb and have passed legislation to curb it.

“It’s really sad to see friends, creatives and locals who have helped make this city such an incredible displaced person.

“When winter arrives, business owners rely on the people who live permanently in the area to support them. If the community has evolved, those businesses will also go.

“What good are Airbnbs if the cultural infrastructure has been forced to move to the next ‘cool’ / run down place anyway? “

A study by Visit Kent and Canterbury Christ Church University showed that the number of Airbnb properties in Thanet increased by 450% between 2016 and 2019.

“When winter comes, business owners rely on the people who live permanently in the area to support them …”

Research on the Airbnb website shows that there are currently over 300 “full” stays available in Margate, compared to 230 in Broadstairs and 195 in Ramsgate.

Cllr Yates’ motion will be discussed at a plenary council meeting Thursday at 7 p.m.

An Airbnb spokesperson said: “Airbnb is built on helping people afford their homes and building communities and we have reached out to Thanet’s board to offer our support.

“Across the UK, the majority of hosts share space in their own home and almost a third of UK hosts say the extra income is an economic lifeline. We take housing issues seriously and have called for a nationwide registration system to better understand the impact of short-term rental activity on local areas, and updated planning guidelines to hold local authorities accountable.

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