The city council is ramping up efforts to introduce restrictions on unregulated short-term lets with a motion that, if passed, would see the council call on Government to create a separate use class.
Airbnb, the sector’s dominant operator, has come under fire in various ways over recent years, with tourist hotspot cities such as Lisbon and Barcelona taking action to return apartments to a highly pressured long-term rental market, while “party house” lets have created negative coverage – the business itself has now put in motion plans to restrict lets to under-25s who receive negative reviews.
It is the party house market that Liverpool is seeking to address. A motion by Cllr Alan Tormey aims to tackle what is referred to in documents prepared ahead of the council’s housing select committee this week as a “headache”.
Cllr Tormey put forward a similar motion in November 2019, but the motion fell and was not debated – under council rules, a six-month gap must elapse before it can be resubmitted. In the new motion, he asks the committee to note concerns raised by residents and local businesses over short-term unregulated lets, including noise, waste management and antisocial behaviour issues; the impact on the residential market, with fewer properties available for rent; and the impact on the licensed hotel and B&B sector.
Should the committee agree, the council’s cabinet member for housing – deputy mayor Cllr Lynnie Hinnigan – will write to the appropriate government ministers and to Liverpool MPs calling for a change in planning law to create a separate use classification for short-term holiday lets, similar to that used for houses of multiple occupation – there is an additional call that a licensing regime should be set up to enhance management practices around lets.
The committee would also call for powers to enable councils to apply an enforceable exception to such a classification, allowing use of residential premises as temporary sleeping accommodation for up to 90 days, as has been pursued in Greater London.
Cllr Tormey’s request is that the question should be raised as to whether Airbnb premises should be brought under the business rates system, again echoing situations in other tourist hotspots where guests paying city tax, or “tourist tax” has been an area of contention.