Margate councillor calls for Airbnb crackdown after locals struggle to rent homes

  • Watch the video report by ITV Meridian's Sarah Saunders

A local councillor in Margate has said the rapid growth of Airbnbs has left local people struggling to find homes for rent and is damaging the character of the town.

Councillor Rob Yates wants a crackdown and believes places like Margate risk becoming ghost towns in winter, when holiday lets sit empty.

Councillor Yates is calling for powers over how many homes can be changed to Airbnbs and is calling on the company to limit property rentals to 90 nights a year for the area.

Similar measures have been introduced in the past London.

He said: "We 100 rely on tourism, but the way I view it is that Margate is booming but Margate cannot continue to boom if AirBnB continues to boom. They are not compatible.

"I've got business saying to me I've lost staff and will continue to lose staff the more these rental prices continue to go up.  There is a series issue here."

  • Cllr Rob Yates, Thanet District Council, Lab:

As Margate soars in popularity with holiday makers, there has been a surge in people buying up property for holiday lets, with claims that leaves some locals struggling to find anywhere to rent.

Dan Thompson, Artist and author, fears he may have to leave the property and move out of the area if he can't find somewhere affordable to rent.

He said: "If you were looking for somewhere to rent in Margate, or any other of the seaside towns, you'll find there's very little on the market. When a flat comes on the market, there's a scrum to get a viewing.

"Places like margate rely on artists, small business and if the people that run those get priced out of the market we are going to have a problem with tourism."

  • Dan Thompson, Artist and author:

However, rental companies said the town is dependent on tourism, which has seen the area begin to thrive.

Alistair Baldwin, Holiday Lets in Kent said: "Margate is back on the map, but why would we want to cripple our economy? Which is what pays wages, gives jobs. I fully appreciate there is a housing crisis but this isn't the answer.

"These properties are second home owners, so if we restrict to 90 days they are just going to sit empty through winter and that isn't a solution for the local economy.  It's job loses, it's redundancies and you've got so many people riding on the back of tourism here."

Airbnb said: "We take housing concerns seriously and have called for a nationwide registration system to better understand the impact of short-term letting activity on local areas, and an update to planning guidance to empower local authorities."

The debate will be discussed by the council on Thursday (14/10) evening.