Former Lib Dems leader Tim Farron has slammed Airbnb for helping create a ‘clearance’ of long-term rental homes from his Lakeland constituency.
He made the comments during a debate in parliament that pressed for more financial help for the hospitality sector, but used his speech to attack holiday lets, largely because their growing market share of rental properties in the lakes and dales of Westmorland make finding accommodation for hospitality workers locally increasingly difficult.
“The Government has failed to act to counter the collapse of the long-term rented market into Airbnb properties,” he said.
“We have seen an eviction — a Lakeland clearance — of local people who could work not just in hospitality and tourism but in care, education, health and other sectors.
“The Government promised to bring in a separate category of planning use for short-term lets, but they have failed to do so and have let my community down in the process.”
Nigel Huddleston, who is the Financial Secretary to the Treasury and who responded to questions posed during the debate, said: “All I can say to the honorary Gentleman is that we are listening.
“Some measures are being put in place that local authorities will have powers to implement, but I understand that a lot of people are not happy with the situation.
“I completely understand the challenges at a local level, particularly when it comes to employment and the unaffordable cost of housing in many parts of the country, as many Members have mentioned.”
What wasn’t mentioned during the debate is that short-lets are now more attractive to landlords because, although they require greater management and are most costly to operate, are much less regulated, generate five times more income and attract lower taxes.
"We would like to see this introduced as soon as possible to give local authorities the information they need about short-term letting activity in their area so that, where necessary, they can make evidence-based policy decisions to address local concerns.
"The typical Host on Airbnb in the UK shares their space for just three nights a month with four in ten saying the extra income helps them afford the rising cost of living."