There are just over 800,000 homes in Kent, housing a population of approx 1.6 million people.
The number of Airbnb’s in Kent is 5,059 which is 0.63% of all the homes in Kent. The district with the largest number of Airbnb’s is Canterbury with 1,043.
If one factors in 2nd homes in Kent as well – which is 8,300 homes it takes the number of homes lost to rent to locals as 13,359, or 1.66% of all homes in Kent.
If one factors in empty homes as well, which was 6,172 as of Aug 2019, that means 19,531 homes are not being used to house local people. Adding in the empty homes makes the number of houses taken out of the system to rent to local people as 2.44% of all the housing stock in Kent.
Coming back to Airbnb’s, local landlords who we have spoken to claimed renters will find it harder to access long-term homes to rent locally because taxation changes have driven landlords to move into the holiday lettings market. Many landlords we spoke to blame the government for restricting mortgage interest relief to the basic rate of income tax, claiming they will be significantly worse off or even unable to make a profit on their lettings.
The change does not apply to short-term lets, encouraging more landlords to move into this market, according to the local landlords we spoke to.
Anyone buying a second home or buy-to-let property has also been hit with a 3% stamp duty surcharge since April 2016 under changes introduced by George Osborne as chancellor.
A local landlord with both long term and short term lets who did not want to be named said:
“Osborne’s policy has definitely encouraged the growth of holiday homes in the various parts of the Folkestone & Hythe District and beyond. This is and has been at the expense of long-term homes to rent, which many local families need. Osborne’s policy is totally counterproductive, making renting more expensive and undermining efforts to help tenants save for a house of their own.”
They went onto say
Hotels and other types of holiday accommodation have failed to adapt to the new economy, Airbnb fills that niche. Something similar has happened in other sectors, for example, record companies.
However, another landlord who owns homes and rents long term to families across the whole district said:
In most cases, a large amount of the income generated by Airbnb business transactions is not taxed, as only commissions are charged with VAT. Therefore Airbnb promotes the underground economy.
Airbnb promotes unfair competition between individuals who do not have to comply with the same norms, licences and taxes such as hotels, hostels and bed and breakfasts who are strictly regulated.
In Kent, the landlords we spoke to said that Airbnb is not sufficiently large enough to affect the long term rental market significantly. However, that is not to say this won’t change.
What we, the landlords and Caroline Lucas think would be a wise idea, is for the current Government to give local authorities in Kent and beyond, the power to regulate Airbnb and other short-term lettings in order to alleviate any pressure as soon as it becomes visible via the data. We like others believe prevention is better than cure.
The Shepwayvox Team
Journalism for the People NOT the Powerful