• Tue. Jul 16th, 2024

Clamp down on Airbnbs as Oxford city councillors fear communities will be ‘hollowed out’


Sep 17, 2022

The city council is set to clamp down on growing numbers of Airbnb holiday lets amid a housing shortage and fears communities will be ‘hollowed out’.

Oxford City Council’s cabinet this week agreed to progress with plans to stop domestic waste collections from such addresses, making landlords pay for disposal in a bid to discourage short-term letting of potential homes.

Finding properties that are not registered as holiday lets will also become a priority for the council’s planning enforcement team.

It emerged that the 104 registered properties currently have waste collected despite not paying council tax.

Data used in the council’s report said 781 entire properties were listed as available for short-term let through Airbnb with ‘the great majority’ in central wards such as Carfax & Jericho, Hinksey Park, Holywell, St Clement’s and St Mary’s. Other wards with active listings are Cowley, Cutteslowe and Sunnymead, Headington, and Marston.

London is the only place in England where planning permission is required for properties offering short-term accommodation for more than 90 nights per year but a government review of such rules is underway.

The city council does have the power to make owners register properties for business rates if it is used for short-term letting for 140 days or more per year – 104 properties in Oxford are currently registered.

Cllr Linda Smith (Lab, Lye Valley), the city’s cabinet member for housing, said: “This report is driven by the desire of this council to control the loss of residential properties, which could be being lived in by permanent residents of this city, to the holiday letting trade.

“We have been calling for more powers to regulate this trade and there is a forthcoming government consultation where we will repeat those demands. Until we are given more powers we are determined to do everything we can right now towards the aim of controlling the loss of properties.”

She said that waste was collected from 104 registered properties, despite them not paying council tax.

“That is not fair on residents who are paying for council services and it is not fair on other businesses who are paying for commercial waste disposal contracts,” she added.

Cllr Alex Hollingsworth (Lab, Carfax & Jericho), cabinet member for planning and housing delivery, focused on the knock-on impact.

“It is worth drawing attention to the fact that there are 781 entire homes which are therefore unavailable for families or individuals to live in,” he said.

“Those are concentrated across effectively four wards and that is a really significant proportion of the homes. That is beginning to have impacts on local schools, who are losing pupils, and other local services.

“If the government does not address this I think we run the risk of the kinds of things that happen to villages in places like Cornwall, Devon and Norfolk where the majority of homes are empty for large parts of the year, and indeed cities across the UK, and in Europe and across America where whole districts are being hollowed out as a result of this trade.

“The sooner we can get some degree of control over it, the better. The social consequences are much greater than people imagine.”