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Government Proposals For Short Term Lets

Planning consultant David Kemp BSc (Hons) MRICS Barrister* (*non-practising) and Director at DRK Planning Ltd, comments

The Government has been continuing its consultation on changes proposed to the short term lets sector.

The term ‘short term lets’ covers a wide variation of possible letting models by operators in the sector, varying generally from uses similar to hotels and apart-hotels (Use Class C1) to temporary stays of 90 days per year or less, or in other cases of more than 90 days per year (sui-generis).

What Use Class does ‘Short Term lets’ fall into?
At this time, there are no permitted development rights from C3 use (self-contained houses or flats used as the sole or main residence of the occupier) to either C1 (hotels, guesthouses and bed-n-breakfast) or to sui generis short term or holiday lets.

There is currently no ‘defined’ use class for ‘short term lets’ and therefore, whether or not any particular use of a property in this use falls into a specific category will vary from one case to another.

Short term lets, along with Air BnB, holiday lets, and some forms of serviced accommodation form part of the Short Term Visitor Accommodation (STVA) market and have no defined planning use. The typical duration of stay will vary according to the business model from one night to up to six months on occasion, i.e. generally less than a typical AST of at least six months’ stay.

What affects whether it falls into a different use class?
If the owner or a tenant does not reside at the property as their main home, such as if the property is let out under the classification of an Airbnb, the use class will therefore be a short-term commercial let and not residential use.

The question is one of ‘fact and degree’ based on the judgement from Moore v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government [2012]. In this case, it upheld the decision of an appeal inspector that the holiday letting of a large house fell outside C3 use class and into sui generis use. 

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