Shropshire Farming Talk: Farmers warned over new holiday let rules
Plans to regulate short-term holiday lets could have implications for farmers looking to diversify, according to a leading Shropshire planning expert.
There are two sets of proposals being consulted upon – a proposal by the Department for Culture Media and Sport for a new registration scheme for short-term lets, and a consultation by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities on a new use class for short term lets, together with associated permitted development rights in England.
But Suzanne Tucker, a partner in the planning team at FBC Manby Bowdler, said the proposals were not necessarily bad news for those wanting to let their homes or use spare buildings to generate extra income.
Short-term lets clearly have significant benefits for the individual homeowners and to the local economy, but can have negative effects on the affordability of local rental housing, can drive up house prices, and can generate anti-social behaviour. The registration scheme aims to build a picture of how many short-term lets there are and where they are, to help understand the impact on communities.
Suzanne said: “In the age of Airbnb and staycations, holiday lets have proliferated – especially in beautiful rural areas like Shropshire, which is one of the most sought-after areas for this type of holiday.
“They can be a great alternative source of income for farmers who have unused outbuildings, but proposals for registration would put responsibility on owners to make sure their properties are registered and comply with existing regulations covering equipment safety and planning.
“The intention is for a light tough approach and may allow for self-certification, but will inevitably attract a fee.
“Alongside the proposals for registration is the proposed new use class for short term lets (Class C5).
Suzanne added: “Whilst many people use their properties for Airbnb style lettings without consideration to planning controls, some types of short-term letting do require planning consent.
“The creation of a new use class will mean that switching between a home and a short-term let will be seen as a change of use, but the proposals include the introduction of a new permitted development right that would allow the change of use of dwelling houses in England (C3) to a short term let (C5), and vice versa, without the need for express consent in many cases.
“These permitted development rights should make it easier to move between residential and holiday let uses. However, councils can issue an Article 4 Direction for specific areas, which would mean owners wouldn’t be able to rely on automatic permitted development rights. This is likely to happen in areas where there are particular issues with holiday lets pushing out ‘ordinary’ occupiers in tourist hotspots.
“This Article 4 won’t apply to lets already in use, provided they remain in consistent holiday-let use, but could restrict the opportunity to create new ones and prevent switching back and forth between a dwellinghouse and holiday-let.
“Planning consent will still be required for outbuildings which are not already in domestic use.
“Anyone who is thinking of creating a new holiday let would be strongly advised to get good legal advice. The Government is committed to bringing forward legislation in the short term and so it will be important to be absolutely certain about any Article 4 Directions in your area, and whether or not you need to apply for planning permission before going ahead.
“Your legal team can also help you collate all the necessary paperwork, such as energy certificates and safety audits and advise on any planning permission and any appeals process as needed.
“Most current holiday lets will be OK under these proposals, but your legal team can check all the fine details to make sure you won’t get any nasty surprises.
“Short term lets are still a great way for farmers to generate extra income, but good advice at the start could save a lot of hassle and expense later on.”
For more information about owning and operating a holiday let, visit www.fbcmb.co.uk/