The impact of short-term/holiday lets on UK housing

This research piece presents an updated picture of the current market for short-term lets (STLs), looks at the broader costs/benefits to our communities, and potential solutions that could maximise the benefits while minimising the drawbacks as seen by property agents.

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The number of short-term lets has grown steadily in many areas of the UK over the past four years with a peak during the recent pandemic when many decided to holiday in the UK rather than risk travel abroad. There appears to have been some fall off since, but the number of STLs is steadily rising once again.

Our survey highlights the profoundly localised nature of the issue, with 76 per cent of agents operating in tourist hotspots reporting an increase in the number of STLs over the past four years. This dropped to only 33 per cent of agents operating in non-tourist hotspots.

What's the issue?

Growth in STLs and other trends

Our previous report found that 16 per cent of the British public had let out all or part of their home. However, the vast majority (70 per cent) had let property in which they usually live. A further 12 per cent used STLs to fill a gap between longer rentals. 

Analysis of listings data from Inside Airbnb revealed that, as at September 2022, 59 per cent of properties were listed as ‘entire home/apt’ in London, suggesting a not-insignificant proportion are people letting out spare rooms. This figure compares to 69 for Edinburgh, 63 for Bristol and 62 for Manchester.

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25 Oct 2022
DCMS urged to establish standards within the short-term lettings industry

Propertymark has been outspoken in the past over how the proliferation of short-term lets risks reducing the size of the private rented sector. An increase in short-term and holiday lets also reduces the number of homes for people to purchase which increases house prices as supply is reduced.

Insights from our survey

58 per cent of respondents to our survey reported that the number of short-term lets within their local area has increased in the past four years

A further 28 per cent reported that numbers had remained fairly constant, while only 13 per cent reported a fall in the number of STLs over this period. 

Of those seeing growth in their regions, 38 per cent reported the primary driver being a transfer of property from the PRS and 34 per cent a specific property purchase to let in the STL market (See figure 5).

The issues surrounding short-term lets are back in focus as housing availability and affordability is high on the agenda. Feedback from our members shows that the issue is complex, very localised and is having a significant impact on the use and supply of housing across the country. 

Both the Scottish and Welsh Governments have taken action to address the issue and for England the vast majority of our members support the introduction of a licensing scheme with physical checks for short-term let premises as well extending the current health and safety requirements and tenant protections to short-term lettings.

As highlighted in our report, the challenge for government is balancing the flexibility that short-term letting brings with the existing rules for longer term renting, the tax system and the impact on communities as well as creating ways in which local authorities can gather data and control short term lets in their areas.

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Timothy Douglas Head of Policy and Campaigns | Propertymark
Download the full report