New powers could restrict Airbnb rentals and ‘party houses’ in York after huge rise in numbers
Fears have been raised about the impact websites such as Airbnb are having on local communities, with politicians saying they are leading to increased evictions and that ‘party houses’ of more than 20 people make the neighbours’ lives a misery.
A review paper has been produced by York City Council officers in response to a government appeal for evidence on the increase in holiday letting.
It shows that the number of short-term vacation rentals in the city has fallen from 937 in January 2018 to 2,055 in July 2022, concentrated mainly in the city centre. The number of full homes available increased from 609 to 1,714 over the same period, an increase of 181%.
There are more active rentals and whole homes available in York than in comparable cities such as Bath, Lancaster, Oxford and Cambridge.
York Labour’s housing spokesman, Councilor Michael Pavlovic, has called on the government to follow in Scotland’s footsteps by requiring landlords to apply for planning permission before they can change the use of property from a residential home for a short term rental.
There are significantly greater returns for owners who rent a short-term vacation rental compared to a longer-term rental.
Councilor Pavlovic said: “The impact of an unimpeded change in use of vacation rentals is enormous. The result is the eviction of families from their homes, an increase in the number of people on the waiting list for social housing and a reduction in the number of ordinary rental properties available to York residents.
“The overall impact is also that York becomes even more unaffordable as more and more family homes are taken to be run like businesses.”
The council’s report suggests that the new planning powers, along with a new licensing regime, would be the best way to rein in the number, distribution and standards present in holiday rentals.
But he said it was “extremely difficult” to prove a correlation between rising house prices and growth in vacation rentals.
The report stated: “The number of whole-house short-term vacation rentals represents a relatively small percentage of the total properties available in the city (2.18% of the private sector housing stock) and it is therefore reasonable to assume that at the city level, this does not pose a major problem for the housing market, but may have a greater impact at a more micro level”.
Housing and Safer Neighborhoods Council Executive Member Councilor Denise Crahgill supported the report’s suggestions.
“While many vacation rentals cause no problems for local communities, large properties operating effectively as ‘party houses’ with up to 24 guests are already having very negative effects on residential neighborhoods,” he said. she declared. “Local councils need more powers to control a potentially growing imbalance.”
But Councilor Craghill said it was important to remember that short-term holiday rentals play an ‘important role’ in the town’s tourist economy and that part-time room rentals can be a source of valuable income for the owners.