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Short Lets Investors face more red tape

A mandatory short lets registration and licensing scheme is to be introduced in part of the UK, described as a system to “enable providers to demonstrate compliance with safety and quality requirements.”

Anyone who lets out what is described as “visitor accommodation” in Wales must register - this will include Airbnbs and any other short lets, in addition to more traditional bed and breakfast operations.

This new scheme is a direct result of the political deal between Labour - the largest party in the Welsh Government - and the Welsh nationalist party Plaid Cymru, which has an alliance giving Labour an absolute majority in the Parliament. A licensing and registration system has been a demand of Plaid Cymru which claims short lets reduce the overall long term rental stock, and encourages more second home ownership.


A statement from the Welsh Government says: “Many parts of the world have already adopted licensing, certification or registration schemes across their visitor accommodation sectors and the Welsh Government has been considering best practice to design one that is simple and easy to use for accommodation providers in Wales.

“Across the UK, Northern Ireland has had a certification scheme established for all visitor accommodation since 1992, with Scotland having recently introduced a licensing scheme for short term lets. The UK Government is also pursuing a registration approach for short term lets.”

In Wales, the first phase will be a statutory registration scheme for all accommodation providers, which will provide a register on the broad range of visitor accommodation available across the country and will include details on who is operating in the sector, where they are operating, and how they are operating.

Once a registration scheme is fully established, the intention is to follow with a licensing scheme for all visitor accommodation. This will initially focus on confirming compliance with safety requirements visitor accommodation providers should already be meeting, before looking at introducing quality standards at a later stage.

The deputy minister for arts, sport and tourism, Dawn Bowden, says: “Tourism makes an important contribution to the Welsh economy and to Welsh life so this information will be crucial in helping us better understand the sector, as well as helping to inform future policy decisions at a local and national level. The visitor economy is changing rapidly, and while the growth of online booking platforms has brought many benefits, there are concerns around compliance with existing requirements and the impact of short-term lets on housing stock and our communities.”

The measure has been welcomed by the Short Term Accommodation Association, which is a fledgling trade body for the short lets sector.

Chief executive Andy Fenner says: “The Welsh Government has swooped in ahead of its counterpart in Westminster to deliver a registration scheme worthy of the name. The most important aspect of the Welsh plan is that all visitor accommodation will be required by law to register, not just holiday lets.

“For the first time in Welsh history, policymakers, officials and residents will have a clear picture of how big the hospitality sector is in each area, how it is constituted, and how big an economic contribution each type of provider is likely making.

“Moves to restrict any part of the tourist accommodation sector will, in future, be based on hard facts, not rumour and innuendo, giving decisions a proper basis. This is a really positive step forward for tourism in Wales and one that we hope is replicated in England, which will be the last region of the UK to see a registration scheme introduced.”


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