Jersey's Housing Minister cracks down on unlicensed short-term holiday lets
Phil Wellbrook has this report.
Jersey's Housing Minister has vowed to crack down on people advertising properties as holiday lets without the right permissions.
Currently, the island requires owners of short-term lease properties to seek planning approval, but Deputy David Warr says he is 'surprised' by how many of the island's properties are being used as short-term lets.
Jersey's government previously considered changing the law to encourage Airbnb-style holiday lets, but as more homes were being rented out to holidaymakers, the effect on the island's housing market became apparent and Ministers first suggested regulating them more closely.
Now, Deputy Warr says affordable housing is desperately needed and homes being used for short-term lets could be used in the local housing market.
Housing and planning officers have been reviewing local properties that are currently being advertised for short-term and holiday lettings on sites like Airbnb, following concern that a large number of homes were being used for holidaymakers.
Deputy Warr said: "From flats in town, to developments that should be reserved for first-time buyers, it is very clear that there are many properties being used in this way, that shouldn't be.
"I have approached the Environment Minister on this matter, who shares my concerns and equally wants to ensure these properties have the right permissions, and where they don't, that appropriate action is taken."
What are the rules in Jersey?
Under the Planning and Building Law, the use of a dwelling for short-term holiday letting is defined as 'development', which requires planning permission.
Environment Minister, Deputy Jonathan Renouf, said: "One of the main purposes of the Island Plan is to give the opportunity to weigh up the benefits of a proposed development or change of use.
"In the case of short-term holiday lettings, there is clearly some tension with the need to support the growth and diversification of our tourism industry, whilst also recognising the critical need to ensure the availability of homes for Islanders to live in.
"Applying for planning permission allows the merits of a potential short-term let to be tested against the policies of the Island Plan.
"It is troubling to learn that there appears to be a high number of properties being used for short- term lets without having been through this process of evaluation.
"I do however also recognise that some people may simply not be aware of the rules. Therefore, I invite all those who may be advertising and using their property for short-term holiday lets, where they don't already have planning permission, to take action now to either seek regularisation with a planning application or make the decision to stop."
He added that the focus was on people renting out full units of accommodation rather than single rooms.
Other accommodation providers in Jersey have welcomed the move. Kelly Keadell's family has run the Harbour View in St Aubin for more than 60 years:
"The last few years have been a difficult time for the island's tourism industry - not helped by these unregulated short-stay lets popping up.
"We have proper planning permission for our self-catering accommodation. We've had to jump through various hoops to make sure we're complying with Jersey's rules.
"People letting out second homes without the proper permission doesn't just mean fewer homes for islanders to rent, but also takes business away from others who do things by the book."
Jersey properties let out using Airbnb are occupied for an average of just four nights a month, according to company stats.
A company spokesperson has told ITV News it wants to be a 'good partner' to Jersey and will be ensuring holiday let owners who use the platform are complying with local laws:
"Airbnb has partnered with governments across the world to unlock economic opportunities for local families and protect housing.
"We want to be good partners to Jersey, and are communicating the latest announcements to our host community."
Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...