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20th November 2018

Hewitsons sees an increase in Planning Contravention Notices in relation to short-term lets

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Hewitsons has seen an increase in the number of Planning Contravention Notices being issued in relation to properties being let on a short-term basis through websites such as Airbnb. However, such use does not always amount to a material change of use for which planning permission is required, and can sometimes be regularised by way of a Certificate of Lawfulness.

A Planning Contravention Notice is effectively a first step towards formal planning enforcement action and is a means by which the local planning authority can gather information in relation to the ownership of a property and its use. The response given to such notices should enable the local planning authority to determine whether a change of use has taken place and, therefore, whether further action in the form of a planning enforcement notice can and should be taken.

Whether the use of a residential property for short term lets amounts to a material change of use that requires planning permission is a matter of fact and degree in the individual circumstances of the case.  The answer will depend on the particular characteristics of the use.  Occupation by large groups of people with no pre-existing relationship and who are perhaps coming together solely to partake in some kind of shared interest (such as yoga or cycling) is likely to give rise to a commercial use which will require planning permission.  However, occupation by small numbers of family members or pre-formed household groups who arrive at the property together and occupy the house as a single household is unlikely to give rise to a material change of use in that the use is effectively the same as the use of a normal residential dwelling, albeit that the identity of the occupants changes. 

If there has been no material change of use of a property as a result of it being used for short term lets, no express grant of planning permission is required.  However, it may be desirable to regularise the use by applying for a Certificate of Lawfulness for use of the property for short term lets on the basis that this is a normal residential use.  This will provide comfort to a property owner in that, if a Certificate of Lawfulness is granted, the local planning authority will not be able to take any enforcement action against the use in the future, provided it does not change materially.

For more information or assistance in submitting a Certificate of Lawfulness application, please contact Gemma Dudley on 01223 532 747 or click here to email Gemma.