Prospect of a second homes ban moves closer in Brighton and Hove

Councillors have asked officials to look at ways to ban second homes and holiday lets in Brighton and Hove.

They agreed to target hotspots rather than impose a city-wide ban, with the focus likely to fall on areas where more than one in five homes are not the owners’ main residence.

A Brighton and Hove City Council report said that a “principal residence policy” would apply to new builds only.

And the report added that more than 3,000 properties could currently be in use as short-term holiday lets – some of them party houses.

There are believed to be a significant number of second homes that are also left vacant for a large part of the year – and unavailable for local people needing somewhere to live.

Critics believe that the large number of second homes and holiday lets also contributes to making house prices and rent levels increasingly hard to afford for a growing number of people.

If a ban is brought in, Brighton and Hove would become the first city or large urban area to adopt this approach.

The report – to the council’s Tourism, Equalities, Communities and Culture Committee – said that similar bans have been approved “in very small rural or coastal communities and largely through neighbourhood plans”.

Any ban would be similar to restrictions on new shared houses also known as houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) and sometimes referred to as student houses.

Labour councillor Amanda Evans said that the threshold should be 15 per cent of homes – not 20 per cent – for a second homes ban.

And, she said, the council should “keep the option open” for a city-wide ban until the 2021 Census data comes.

The Queen’s Park ward councillor said that central Brighton, particularly her ward, was affected by the hidden poverty of people in low-wage service jobs renting privately.

She said: “All of that is highly connected to the frankly insane cost of housing in the city – to buy, rent or the land to build on.

“Younger employees at the council are moving out to Worthing because they can’t afford to live in Brighton.

“In my own ward, the Edward Street Quarter, I understand, is already 75 per cent sold off plan for outrageously high prices, and I bet you they’re not being bought by people who are going to live in them themselves.”

Councillor Amanda Evans

Councillor Evans also mentioned striking staff at the St James Tavern, saying that they did not even earn enough money to live near where they worked.

Green councillor Marianna Ebel said that national legislation was needed to regulate existing holiday lets which were blighting parts of Brighton and Hove.

Councillor Ebel, who represents Goldsmid ward, said that a former family home in her ward was now a holiday let for up to 10 guests, resulting in complaints from neighbours about noise and anti-social behaviour.

Councillor Ebel said: “We need to do something. We have a housing crisis and thousands of residents are on our housing waiting list.

“When flats and houses are used for short-term holiday lets and second homes, it not only reduces the number of housing units but causes massive problems for neighbours such as anti-social behaviour.”

The committee voted eight to two on Thursday (16 June) for officials to carry out further work on the proposed ban, with the Greens and Labour in favour and the Conservatives against.

  1. Valerie Reply

    Who are the two who failed to support the vote?

    • Frank le Duc Reply

      The vote went along party lines with the Greens and Labour in favour and the Conservatives against. I edited out that detail of the vote by mistake and I’ve now reinstated it.

  2. fed-up with brighton politics Reply

    Thank you, Frank.
    At full council, the Conservatives abstained or whatever, because they thought this would mitigate against people like Conservative MPs having a base/home here, which wasn’t what this was about at all. Appropriate exemptions could surely be engineered for these very few such people.

  3. Simon Phillips Reply

    Technically, students have two homes! There home in their home town and their part-time home in Brighton where they vote. Or do they vote twice?
    Will they be part of this ‘crackdown’ on second homes?
    Doubtful! Very, very doubtful!
    Mr? I’d just be happy with owning one home!

    • Car Delenda Est Reply

      Students voting?

    • Chris Reply

      Students can choose to vote in their home constituency, or their term-time one, but not both.

    • Raphael Reply

      If I student was to own a home in London and was trying to also buy a home in Brighton in certain areas they would be affected. If they simply rent in Brighton but they also live with their parents during the holidays this wouldn’t change that.

  4. Michael Reply

    This has been tried in St Ives and has failed. Unless you apply the restriction to existing properties it will have negligible effect.
    The St Ives experiment has been described as “Political theatre” and that’s exactly what’s happening here.

  5. Car Delenda Est Reply

    Anything to stop the rapid gentrification of Brighton by Londoners.

  6. MegA Reply

    How many new builds are there in areas where more than one in five homes are not the owners’ main residence? Very, very few I suspect. Woud probabaly only amount to a handful of properties. Brighton’s history has been as a seaside town with 2nd homes for rich Londoners.

    • Louise H Reply

      Probably the Edward Street Quarter. A bit late now they should have stipulated it before planning permission was given.

    • fed-up with brighton politics Reply

      This was provoked by the proposed East Brighton gasworks development, where it looks as if most or all 550-odd properties -if built – would be investment properties, on the basis that they would not be remotely affordable for most people on B&H incomes. The developers have already stated their intention to market them overseas.

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