A former housing secretary has accused Michael Gove of putting in place “anti-business” restrictions on Airbnb homeowners that want to rent out their properties.
Simon Clarke critiqued the current holder of the housing brief Mr Gove’s plans to push homeowners to get planning permission to holiday let their properties, The Times reports.
Former business secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg concurred, saying it was a “misplaced” reaction to failing to build more homes.
But Prime Minister Rishi Sunak claimed “top down (housing) targets” would not be imposed on local areas, adding there was a lack of support for councils to be forced to construct new developments.
The disagreement came following Mr Gove’s announcement of measures to decrease pressure on housing in popular holiday spots like Cornwall, the Lake District and parts of London – where new housing is often bought to be used in private rentals on websites such as Airbnb.
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According to Mr Gove the new regulations would prevent locals from being “pushed out” of their areas and guarantee that “more people have access to local homes at affordable prices”.
Mr Clarke, who served as the secretary of state during Liz Truss’ brief premiership, believes the move was an indicator of a greater Government housing policy failure for the building of new homes.
The Conservative MP additionally denounced Government ministers over the Help to Buy scheme, which enabled first-time buyers to purchase a home with only a 5 per cent deposit and 20 per cent of the buy price interest-free for the first five years.
Mr Clarke said: “So many of our intervention in the housing market, from anti-business ones like this to very costly demand-side subsidies like Help to Buy, stem from our failure to build enough homes, and to make the argument to the public about why this matters.”
This statement has stoked worries on the right of the Conservative Party that Mr Gove has surrendered to a “nimby” collective of Tory MPs that do not agree with the new developments in their constituencies.
The move risks locking millions of young people out of the housing market if the Government does not enable it to build, Mr Gove’s opponents have warned.
Mr Rees-Mogg labelled Mr Gove’s plan “unconservative” in an interview with GB News.
“It is unnecessarily regulatory”, Ms Truss’ former business secretary said.
“We ought to be reducing burdens, not increasing them.
“The attack on landlords is a misguided response to the failure to build more houses, which is the real problem.”
The plan was also blasted by landlord groups, who claimed it “completely overlooked” the industry’s value to UK tourism.
Andy Fenner, chief executive of the Short Term Accommodation Association said: “Similar intervention in Edinburgh have caused a collapse in supply in that market, with many local short-term rental businesses shutting up shop for good.
“Any change to planning rules must not become a pre-election gambit for easy votes or a stick to beat the short-term rental industry with.
“Its economic benefits have long been overlooked and it’s time its contribution to UK tourism was properly recognised.”
Theo Lomas, head of public policy at Airbnb, has said that the plan could harm families that are looking for extra income amid the cost of living crisis.
“We want to work with the government to ensure that any planning interventions are carefully considered, evidence-based and strike a balance between protecting housing and supporting everyday families who let their space to help afford their home and keep pace with rising living costs,” he said.