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Impact of Airbnb-style lettings on Norwich homes and hotels to be investigated

PUBLISHED: 15:00 18 June 2018 | UPDATED: 15:00 18 June 2018

James Wright, leader of the Liberal Democrat group at Norwich City Council. Pic: Stuart McPherson.

James Wright, leader of the Liberal Democrat group at Norwich City Council. Pic: Stuart McPherson.

Stuart MccPherson

The impact of Airbnb-style short-term lettings on homes and hotels in Norwich is to be investigated by city councillors, after concerns were raised over whether City Hall is keeping a close enough eye on the practice.

More than 300 properties in the city are listed on the popular Airbnb website, through which people, known as hosts, can rent out their homes or rooms.

But Norwich City councillors are keen to establish what impact such short-term lettings are having on the city, with City Hall’s scrutiny committee next week likely to agree to begin a study into the issue.

Councillors acknowledge that the ability to rent out homes or rooms for short periods brings benefits to people who can make significant money from short term letting.

But they say it also raises questions about problems for neighbours, with transient visitors, noise from parties in flats and the loss of housing for local people.

They also want to see how the growth of short term lettings affects the city’s hotel and guest house/B&B sector.

James Wright, leader of the Liberal Democrat group at City Hall, said he decided the issue needed to be scrutinised after he was contacted by a concerned member of the public.

Mr Wright said: “We have been encouraging people to get in contact with us to make use of the committees’ scrutiny function and a resident came to us with concerns about short-term lettings, so we are following that through.

“Members have picked up from the own communities that there are issues, so let’s have a look at it.”

The city council’s role in regulating such properties - such as whether sub-letting is allowed and whether the council should insist on planning permission for a change of use - is also likely to come under the spotlight.

The committee could make recommendations to the city council’s cabinet, depending upon their findings.

Airbnb was founded in 2008 as a listings service for people to rent out space from spare rooms to second homes. It now has more than 1.5m listings in more than 34,000 cities.

Last year we reported how one host who rented out a two-bed holiday let behind their home in Breckland discovered more than 50 servicemen in the property.

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