Yorkshire communities being turned into nightmares due to Air BnB party houses, says MP

A Yorkshire MP has introduced a bill to licence short-term and holiday-let accommodation in a bid to stop visitors to the city turning “wonderful little communities in York into nightmares.”

York Central MP Rachael Maskell said she is being contacted by constituents who no longer feel safe in their homes due to an increasing number of Airbnbs, with many becoming “party houses” hired by stag and hen groups.

Ms Maskelll said there were around 2,000 Airbnbs in her constituency and that they were becoming increasingly common in the outskirts of the city and in the more rural villages.

Speaking in a debate in parliament about short-term letting, the MP said: “In the city centre, we often find streets—family streets—where there are five or six Airbnbs, and it is having a serious impact.”

Rachel Maskell

Ms Maskell said one property in a cul-de-sac in The Groves area was being advertised for 30 people

“It is at the end of a family residential street, and people in my community have told me that the noise goes on all night,” she said.

People are half-clad in the streets. Women do not feel safe down some of the back alleys in the Groves, where a lot of children play.

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“People do not feel safe in their own home anymore. I heard from one family who put their house on the market and moved out of the city, which was the only way they could escape the party houses that were increasingly in their area.”

Ms Maskell said developers were turning domestic homes into short-term lets and that the issue was distorting the local housing market.

She added: “Every single time a property comes on to the housing market, in come these owners of Airbnb, cash in hand, hoovering up the properties ahead of people who have saved meticulously for their mortgage. And they are offering over the market price for those properties.”

A private members’ bill introduced by Ms Maskell this week would see a licence required to turn domestic properties into short-term and holiday-let accommodation, give local authorities the power to issue fines and to remove licences, and seek to introduce bans on such properties in certain areas.

Ms Maskell pointed to European cities such as Nice and Lisbon which have had success in introducing licensing schemes. Scotland is also seeking to introduce similar measures.

City of York Council’s executive member for housing, Coun Denise Craghill, has instructed council officers to look at the scale of the issue and explore options for tackling problems in the city.

She added: “I met recently with Rachael Maskell and residents from the Groves who have been suffering from the impacts of large scale holiday lets in the streets including excessive noise and disturbance.

“These cases and a number of others are currently being actively pursued by planning enforcement as material change of use.

“Unfortunately, as current change of use legislation stands, each case has to be pursued on its own individual merits – so any further powers at the national level whether through planning or a licensing scheme would be very welcome. In the meantime, I will continue to look into measures we can take locally.”

Ms Maskell added that the plans for a simple registration scheme being considered by the government did not go far enough.

“The world has changed rapidly,” she said. “I just say to them that we need to move on from that now and look at a full licensing scheme. A registration scheme would simply have serious deficiencies.”

The next stage for the bill, its second reading, is scheduled to take place in December.