Report by Public Protection Manager (attached).
The Committee considered a joint report by the Public Protection Manager and Environmental Health Officer (circulated previously) regarding proposed amendments to the Council’s existing amenity standards with respect of short term holiday letting of licensed Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs).
The Environmental Health Officer (TR) highlighted the following:
· Consideration was sought in respect of proposed amendments to the Council’s Amenity Standards, and in particular in respect of the short term holiday letting of rooms within licensed HMOs. The proposed revised Amenity Standards document with highlighted changes was found within Appendix A of the report.
· The popularity of short term letting for holiday purposes of domestic properties has increased, particularly in the area of North Devon which has access to popular tourist locations and some landlords are looking to diversify their current portfolio of properties.
· There were an estimated 1,100 HMOs in North Devon, of which approximately 290 fall under the Part 2 mandatory licensing scheme.
· As at 30 June 2023, there were 1867 business rated properties with a description containing ‘self-catering holiday units’.
· An enquiry was received from an agent, whereby they approached the Council to ask if there were any restrictions in relation to landlords renting out rooms within licensed HMOs on a holiday let basis, as a landlord had proposed to rent out their property in this way.
· Having reviewed the request, there were believed to be a number of risks with mixed use short term holiday lets and HMOs as detailed in paragraph 5.7 of the report.
· In light of this request, it was proposed that the Council do not permit rooms within licensed properties to be rented out on a holiday let basis (e.g. via Airbnb, Vrbo etc.). All living accommodation must be occupied by persons as their only or main residence or by persons who are to be treated as so occupying it (e.g. on a permanent basis or in line with Section 259 of the Housing Act 2004).
· It is proposed that a consultation is undertaken with key stakeholders including estate agents, management companies and current HMO landlords and applicants.
· A period of six weeks has been suggested for the consultation in line with the Cabinet Office guidance, as six weeks provided a proportionate and realistic time period in order for stakeholders to provide a considered response.
In response to questions, the Public Protection Manager advised the following:
· That the proposed amendment was to not permit rooms within licensed properties to be rented out on a holiday let basis.
· There was no legal requirement to carry out consultation on this proposed amendment. However, property owners would need some period of notice if they already let out accommodation as holiday lets.
· Other licensing policies (e.g. Licensing Act and Gambling Act) were required to be subject to formal consultation.
· As the original policy had been subject to consultation, it was proposed that consultation be undertaken on this proposed amendment to allow for a level of transparency. A shorter period of consultation may be tolerated.
In response to a question, the Environmental Health Officer (TR) confirmed that the key stakeholders for consultation could also include housing associations and homelessness organisations.
In response to questions, the
Chief Executive advised the following:
· It was a matter of public law that, if a Local Authority normally consults the public when it changes policies of this nature, there would be a legitimate expectation that it would consult on the proposed change(s). If the consultation period was too short a period, then the Council would be at risk of challenge if it had not consulted properly. If the Committee were to propose that no consultation would be carried out on this proposed change, then a report would need to be presented to the next meeting of the Committee to set out the risk(s) so that councillors could take these into account on making any decision.
(a) That the proposed variation to the Council’s Amenity Standards document in Appendix A be approved for consultation;
(b) That the Environmental Health Officer be instructed to undertake a six week period of public consultation on the proposed amendment and seek that consultation responses be reported to a future committee meeting prior to making any approval and that the stakeholders also include housing associations and homelessness organisations,.