‘Significant increase’ in city AirBnB holiday lets sparks council review

A “really significant” increase in AirBnBs and short stay lets in Norwich has seen city councillors ring alarm bells about the need for an online complaints system.

Plans to create an online portal for issues with the app-based accommodation will be discussed by city councillors later this week.

Green Party Denise Carlo, one of the councillors behind the report, warned that the situation in Norwich reflected the picture across the rest of the UK.

“There seems to have been a really significant increase in short stay letting in Norwich since 2018,” she said. “I think it reflects the situation across the country.

“In Norwich, we’ve found that there are 460 whole properties advertised on AirBnB alone and there are several other platforms.

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“It’s a substantial amount.”

READ MORE: Should there be tougher controls on Airbnb to halt rent hikes?

Councillors on the city council’s scrutiny committee - which is not a decision-making body but can recommend a course of action to the council’s leadership - will meet on Thursday, September 17 to discuss the select committee’s report on short term letting.

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The report states: “There is evidence of a sharp rise in the number of short-term lets in many British cities. Such lets bring some advantages, such as promoting the visitor economy and diversifying accommodation.

“They also pose problems such as anti-social behaviour, pricing families out of accommodation, erosion of communities and a general accountability problem.”

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However, AirBnB owner Louise Costa, who runs a Norfolk holiday cottage, said: “The way AirBnB run it, there are a lot of hoops you have to jump through to be able to list on there. They’re quite good.

“They don’t just take anybody. If you don’t comply with all their regulations they won’t take you.”

But she added: “You are going to get the odd one that slips through.

“It is very transparent - it’s all based on the reviews you get.”

Councillors have recommended the council nominate a portfolio holder to be responsible for short-term lets, and “promote a way to report complaints online”, as well as a survey to assess properties’ health and safety compliance.

Ms Carlo added: “At the moment there isn’t any requirement for registration of short stay lets.

“There’s been a national campaign to lobby government to have a register but they want to promote a sharing economy.

“We don’t really know how much money the city council might be losing from business rates relief on short stay lets.”

READ MORE: Should there be tougher controls on Airbnb to halt rent hikes?

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