Government starts work on digital registration regime for holiday lets

Those using sites like Airbnb to list properties for short stays will be required to sign up to a national register intended to help local authorities with planning and enforcement

Work has begun on creating and delivering the new digital regime through which those who offer stays at their home via sites like Airbnb will be required to sign up to a government register.

Ministers this week announced a range of new rules to be imposed on the short-term lets sector. The measures – which includes a “mandatory national registers” for all those offering such accommodation – are intended to help prevent “local residents… from being pushed out of their communities”.

Announcing the plans in a written parliamentary statement, tourism minister Julia Lopez told MPs that the “the registration scheme should be designed to be as light touch, low cost and simple to use as possible”, and may include a threshold below which people will not be required to register.

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“Work will now begin at pace to establish the scheme, which will be delivered primarily online,” she said. “We will begin by conducting an initial phase of digital development which will test how the scheme is best delivered and administered. The findings will inform the detailed design of a scheme – such as who should administer it, frequency of registration and which information should be collected. We will set out further detail on how the scheme will work later in the year, including a full response to the questions we sought views on in our consultation, the full analysis of responses, and further information on the legislative process that will bring the scheme to life.”

The main purpose of the register will be to enable local councils to better understand the scale of the short-term lets in their area, and the impact the sector  is having on property and community. The database will also support authorities in ensuring compliance with health and safety and other regulatory requirements for property owners.

Other measures announced by ministers include allowing local government to subject short-term lets to formal planning approval. The plans will not apply to hotels, hostels, or bed and breakfasts.

Sam Trendall

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