Airbnb crackdown in Margate over fears it’s ‘killing the community’
One of the UK’s most popular seaside towns is to consider a motion that will restrict the number of Airbnbs allowed after locals said it was ‘killing the community’.
Margate in Kent has exploded in popularity with holidaymakers in recent years thanks to its trendy bohemian vibe, with many now dubbing it ‘Shoreditch on Sea.’
But the increased attention has come with a huge rise in rental properties with the area now having more than 300 Airbnb homes.
Permanent residents and councillors now fear families living in the area are struggling to rent homes because there are so few available.
Thanet District councillor Rob Yates has proposed a motion that would introduce letting limits and planning restrictions imposed in the entire Thanet district, which also covers popular Broadstairs and Ramsgate.
Cllr Yates has urged the holiday rental company to repeat what it has done in Greater Manchester and London and introduce a 90-day annual limit for ‘entire home rentals in Thanet within the Airbnb platform’.
The Labour councillor for Margate will bring the motion at the next meeting of Thanet District Council on Thursday.
He said: ‘This council notes with concern the ongoing issues raised by residents around the growth in Airbnbs in Thanet, especially in relation to the reduction in long term rentable properties.
‘We welcome the majority of visitors to Thanet, who make an important contribution to our economy, but we hear residents’ concerns and wish to take action to control this serious issue which is damaging our community and damaging the reputation of Airbnb.
‘This council recognises that it currently does not possess the powers to intervene and regulate these properties, and that this is a problem faced by many local authorities across the country.’
He also said the council should look at introducing change-of-use planning restrictions that would mean a property had to be council-approved to operate as a short term rental.
He said he wanted to ‘ask the leader of the council to write to Marie Lorimer, the UK Public Policy Manager at Airbnb, to request a meeting and seek to proactively introduce a 90-day annual limit for entire home rentals in Thanet within the Airbnb platform’.
He added: ‘Airbnb currently has a lock on their platform that does not allow Greater London entire home properties to be rented out for more than 90 days a year.’
The measure was introduced in London five years ago to free up properties for people looking to permanently rent in the area.
This week, there were more than 300 homes available on Airbnb in Margate, 230 in Broadstairs and 195 in Ramsgate.
The area has become popular in the last five years, partly thanks to the opening of the Turner Contemporary gallery in 2011, comparatively low property prices and highly-praised restaurants.
Even Libertines star Pete Doherty moved there at one point, and was seen scoffing a mega breakfast at local hot spot the Dalby Cafe.
Data from Visit Kent shows there were 1,089 active rentals in Margate with a rental growth of 373% between 2016 and 2019.
While there were hundreds of Airbnbs on offer this week, according to RightMove there were just 15 rental properties available in Margate.
In comparison, Tonbridge, which had the fewest number of Airbnb properties in the whole of Kent, had 36 properties available to renters.
Cllr Yates added: ‘Someone wanting to rent out their spare room for Airbnb is not a problem; it’s people buying properties and then renting the whole thing out on Airbnb.
‘They aren’t part of the Margate community, they are using Margate as an investment opportunity.’
A spokesman for Airbnb said: ‘Airbnb is built on the foundation of helping people afford their homes and making communities stronger and we have reached out to Thanet Council to offer our support.
‘Across the UK, the majority of Hosts share a space in their own home and nearly a third of UK Hosts say that the additional income is an economic lifeline.
‘We take housing concerns seriously and have called for a nationwide registration system to better understand the impact of short-term letting activity on local areas, and an update to planning guidance to empower local authorities.’
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