New planning rules aim to control short-term lets

The government plans to introduce a new use class C5 for AirBnB and other Short Term Lets. Currently, these properties belong to the same use class as “normal” family homes.

If the reforms go ahead, local councils will have powers to regulate short-term lets, subjecting them to the scrutiny of the planning process. The government’s intention is to improve the availability of affordable housing and retain family homes where there is local need. Click the button below to find out what the government has to say about the proposed changes.

National register

A crucial component of this new initiative is the introduction of a mandatory national register. This means all short-term lets would be added to a list. This would enable local councils to monitor the number of short-term lets in their area and assess their impacts on local communities. This would empower them to take action and introduce additional controls if necessary.

What types of short-term lets would be affected?

The government is still debating exactly how the new C5 use class would work and which properties it would affect. At the present time, it is proposed that use class C5 would be worded like this:

“Use of a dwellinghouse that is not a sole or main residence for temporary sleeping accommodation for the purpose of holiday, leisure, recreation, business or other travel.”

This would apply to a wide range of short-term lets, including AirBnBs and most other types of self-catered holiday lets.

The government has proposed, however, that properties would need to be leased short-term for a certain number of nights per calendar year in order to be C5. They have yet to agree on what that limit will be but it could be 30, 60 or 90 nights.

Because of existing rules in London, most short-term lets in that area could continue to be leased short-term for up to 90 days per calendar year without becoming C5.

Hotels, hostels and traditional B&Bs would remain in their own, separate use class C1, as at present.

Normal rented properties would not be affected by the new rules. In addition, you would still be entitled to let out a room (or rooms) in your home to a lodger without falling into the new C5 use class.

Permitted development rights

Importantly, the government intends to introduce permitted development rights for C5 properties. Their current intention is to introduce the following national rights:

  • The right to convert a property from C3 – these are “normal” houses and flats, usually occupied by a single family or person – to C5
  • The right to convert a property from C5 to C3.

These rights would enable property owners to move between use classes C3 and C5 without any need to apply for planning permission.

Click the button below to find out more about permitted development rights.

Article 4 Directions

However, local councils have wider powers to remove or restrict permitted development rights within their area. They do this by making an Article 4 Direction. Article 4 Directions should only be introduced where the council has a good reason. For example, if the National Register indicates that there is an over-supply of short-term lets in a specific area such as a town centre. Similarly, if there is a serious under-supply of affordable housing or family homes within an area, a local council would be entitled to remove the right to convert properties from C3 to C5.

If the permitted development right to convert from C3 to C5 is restricted by an Article 4 Direction in your area then you would be required to apply for planning permission to convert your property. The council would then consider a wide range of planning issues in order to decide whether to grant permission for the conversion or not. Those issues are likely to include:

  • Highways and parking impacts
  • Impact on neighbours due to noise and disturbance etc.
  • Impact of any physical works on the character and appearance of the building and street
  • Impact on the local supply of family homes.

Click the button below to find out more about Article 4 Directions.

What happens next and do I need to do anything?

At this stage, we do not know for certain whether the C5 use class will be introduced, how it will be worded or exactly which properties it will affect. Changes in government following the upcoming General Election could lead to further amendments or delays.

So it’s really too early to take action or make plans. Our best advice is to keep up-to-date with government progress. If use class C5 is brought into force then we recommend you contact us at that time for advice. Our initial advice is always free of charge.

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