A proposal will be put before council next week to introduce planning restrictions on short term lets and a 90 day per year letting limit for entire homes in Thanet on Airbnb.
The motion is being proposed by Margate ward councillor Rob Yates who says he is concerned about the impact of Airbnbs on Thanet’s rental market.
At the next council meeting on October 14, Cllr Yates will propose a motion, saying: “This council notes with concern the ongoing issues raised by residents around the growth in Airbnbs in Thanet, especially in relation to the reduction in long term rentable properties.
“We welcome the majority of visitors to Thanet, who make an important contribution to our economy, but we hear residents’ concerns and wish to take action to control this serious issue which is damaging our community and damaging the reputation of Airbnb.
“This council recognises that it currently does not possess the powers to intervene and regulate these properties, and that this is a problem faced by many local authorities across the country. “Therefore, this council resolves to: a) Work within the Local Plan Cabinet Advisory Group to try and introduce planning restrictions that affect short-term rentals, such as change of use regulations that are required in Greater London to turn a property into an Airbnb property.
“b) Ask the Leader of the council to write to Marie Lorimer, the UK Public Policy Manager at Airbnb to request a meeting and seek to proactively introduce a 90 day annual limit for entire home rentals in Thanet within the Airbnb platform.
“Airbnb currently has a lock on their platform that does not allow Greater London entire home properties to be rented out for more than 90 days a year.”
His concerns will be echoed by independent Broadstairs councillor Ruth Bailey who has put forward a question concerning the shortage of rental properties and the associated proliferation of Airbnbs in Thanet.
She says: “I have become increasingly aware of the plight of people trying desperately to find a place to rent in Thanet. I even know of a lady in her 80s in a desperate situation who has been issued a Section 21 (eviction) notice but cannot find anywhere to rent so is temporarily staying with her brother.
“There currently seems to be a real issue around the lack of available rental property and this unavailability seems to be exacerbated, at least in part, by the proliferation of Airbnbs.
“A shortage of rental properties will also put more pressure on the authority in terms of having to find additional temporary accommodation to house people so this is a serious problem that has ramifications for the council.”
Cllr Bailey will ask what powers Thanet council has, possibly through the Local Plan, to address the issue, how many Airbnbs there are in Thanet and whether there is a local requirement to register Airbnbs with the council.
Data from Visit Kent shows a growing Airbnb sector with Thanet recording 1,089 active rentals with a rental growth of 373% between 2016 and 2019.
Thanet council housing documents say: ”Thanet has become an increasingly attractive place to live, particularly for retirees leaving London, young professionals purchasing second homes in Thanet and the rise of accommodation being used for Airbnb and short term lets.
“However, this has had a corresponding impact on the local market, where rents have increased significantly at a time of major welfare reform, resulting in more and more accommodation becoming inaccessible and unaffordable to those on low incomes or at risk of homelessness.”
Economic impact studies by Airbnb say that in 2013 the platform generated US$824 million in economic activity in the UK and supported 11,600 jobs.
The study, based on the industry in London and Edinburgh, also said 80% of Airbnb hosts in the UK rent out only the home they live in—their primary residence—and use the money they earn to help afford the increasing costs of living.
The report claims Airbnb travellers in the UK stay longer and spend more than typical visitors and says around 42 percent of hosts are self-employed, freelancers, or part-time workers. It adds that Airbnb grows and diversifies tourism in the UK, and that Airbnb guests stay on average 4.6 nights (compared to 3.1 nights for typical visitors to the UK) and spend twice as much over the course of their trips ($1,496 compared to $713 for the average visitor).
The council meeting at TDC’s Cecil Street offices starts at 7pm.