A MASSIVE over-supply of unregulated holiday accommodation is making Cornwall’s housing crisis worse – and making life very unfair for traditional tourism sector businesses, says a Looe councillor.
Data published by Air DNA gathered from platforms such as Airbnb, Vrbo, Bookings.com and Home Away shows that in the summer of 2016 in Cornwall, there were just over 1,500 properties available to book online.
This summer there are more than 16,500 – and the data available does not even show every flat, cottage, house or cabin that could be part of this market, says the South East Cornwall Tourism Association.
Via Airbnb alone, there are more than 200 properties being advertised in Looe, says Councillor Armand Toms.
“Over the last couple of years many homes have been taken out of long-term lets to become Airbnbs, so those available to let for workers has been reduced,” said Cllr Toms.
“With the reduced number available has come an increase in rents and this impacts on hard-working families.”
At present there are 29,000 families or individuals registered on Cornwall Council’s Homechoice system for affordable housing, says Cllr Toms – and just 120 properties are allocated each month.
“With rises in the cost of living in just about everything, times are tough for so many in Cornwall and for sure they look to become even tougher in the near future,” Cllr Toms continued.
“There are currently 1,500 people in temporary accommodation in Cornwall so the housing situation is more than a crisis for local people.”
Cllr Toms’ views are shared by the South East Cornwall Tourism Association (SECTA) and Visit Cornwall. Industry members say there is also the issue that the profusion of unregulated accommodation has led to a very unfair market for furnished holiday let owners and guest houses, who have to comply with many pieces of regulation, such as rules for fire safety and for the disposal of refuse.
“There are 72 regulations that can apply to a holiday let. But people who are not doing it by the book are going under the radar,” said chair of SECTA Sue Jewell.
“We’re all for people subsidizing their income, and this is not to stop them. But we just need to make it an even playing field.”
Visit Cornwall along with six tourism bodies in the county including SECTA, We Are Bude and Visit Tamar Valley have come together to put forward a pilot registration scheme for holiday accommodation in Cornwall.
Malcolm Bell of Visit Cornwall says there would be plenty of positives: “All providers would bear the same level of costs. Visitors to Cornwall will be reassured that wherever they stay, the accommodation will comply with all necessary legislation.
“It will be a driver to assist in the reduction of over-tourism in certain areas of Cornwall.
“And a compulsory registration system would also enable a simple way to communicate legislative changes to operators to ensure everyone is up to speed and compliant.
“The generation of key data is also a massive advantage, to discover the scale of the situation, but also a major resource to help with future planning, transport, and healthcare need.”
Airbnb says it supports the creation of a registration scheme for holiday lets.
Co-founder of the company Nathan Blecharczyk has said that “for Airbnb to succeed, Hosts must succeed. And for Hosts to succeed, they must have the support of the communities they call home.”
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