May 27, 2024 3:40 am

Insert Lead Generation
Nikka Sulton

A new House of Commons report reveals a significant increase in short-term lets across most of the UK over the past five years. This surge in short-term rental properties is reshaping the housing market and affecting the availability of long-term rental options. The rise in short-term lets is driven by the popularity of platforms like Airbnb, which offer homeowners the opportunity to rent out their properties for short stays.

The exception to this trend is Scotland, where strict regulations have been implemented to control the short-let market. These regulations are designed to address concerns about the impact of short-term rentals on local communities and housing availability. In Scotland, individuals face stringent restrictions on letting out their homes, rooms, or separate properties via short-let platforms, aiming to protect the long-term rental market and maintain community stability.

VisitBritain, the government-funded national tourism agency, plays a key role in monitoring the short-term rental market. They publish monthly reports on short-term rentals, providing valuable insights into trends and developments. These reports are based on data collected by Lighthouse, a hospitality industry data and consultancy company that tracks short-let rental listings worldwide. This data helps to understand the scale and impact of the short-let market across different regions.

The data from Lighthouse reveals that the increase in short-term lets is not uniform across the UK. While some areas have seen a dramatic rise in listings, others have experienced more modest growth. This variation is influenced by factors such as local tourism demand, housing market conditions, and regional regulations. The comprehensive data provided by Lighthouse allows policymakers and stakeholders to make informed decisions about managing the short-let market.

Overall, the rise in short-term lets presents both opportunities and challenges. On one hand, it offers homeowners additional income and supports the tourism industry. On the other hand, it raises concerns about housing affordability and community disruption. As the short-let market continues to evolve, ongoing monitoring and regulation will be essential to balance these interests and ensure that the benefits of short-term rentals do not come at the expense of local communities and long-term housing needs.

Lighthouse tracks listings on Airbnb,, Vrbo, and TripAdvisor, maintaining its own database and removing duplicate listings when identified. This rigorous tracking helps ensure the accuracy of the data regarding the number of short-term rental properties available in various regions.

The latest Lighthouse report, cited in a recently released House of Commons library document, reveals significant growth in the short-term rental market. As of February 2024, there were approximately 451,000 available short-term rental properties on these platforms across Great Britain. This marks a substantial 31% increase compared to February 2019, highlighting the rapid expansion of this market over the past five years. Of these properties, around 370,000 were located in England, demonstrating the high demand and popularity of short-term rentals in the region.

These figures include a variety of property types, such as entire homes, private rooms, and shared rooms. It is important to note that these properties may not be exclusively used for short-term lets. In many cases, they serve as someone’s primary residence for part of the year and are rented out as short-term lets when the owners are away. This flexibility is one of the key attractions of short-term rental platforms for both property owners and travelers.

The rise in short-term rental properties can be attributed to several factors, including the growing popularity of platforms like Airbnb and the increasing trend of travelers seeking unique, home-like accommodations rather than traditional hotels. Additionally, property owners are increasingly seeing the financial benefits of renting out their homes or rooms on a short-term basis, capitalizing on high demand during peak travel seasons or local events.

However, not all regions have seen this growth. The exception is Scotland, where strict regulations have been imposed on individuals letting out their homes, rooms, or separate properties via short-let platforms. These regulations aim to address concerns about housing availability for local residents and the impact of short-term rentals on communities. Despite these restrictions, the overall trend in the UK shows a significant increase in the number of short-term rental properties, reflecting changing travel preferences and the evolving property market.

  • London – 82,000 properties; 11% rise from 2019 to February 2024
  • South West – 81,000; 33% rise
  • South East – 52,000; 38% rise
  • Scotland – 46,000; 6% fall
  • North West – 39,000; 55% rise
  • Wales – 35,000; 33% rise
  • East of England – 32,000; 55% rise
  • Yorkshire and Humber – 29,000; 57% rise
  • West Midlands – 21,000; 72% rise
  • East Midlands – 20,000; 65% rise
  • North East – 14,000; 68% rise

Separate figures from the Office for National Statistics, also cited in the Commons library report, indicate that approximately 9.9 million nights were spent in short-term let accommodation in England from July to September 2023. The majority of these stays, about 62%, were by visitors from the UK.

The South West had the highest proportion of nights spent in short-term lets relative to its population, followed by Scotland. In the South West, most visitors were domestic tourists, making up 78% of the total. In contrast, Scotland saw an almost even split between international visitors and domestic tourists, with international visitors accounting for 52% and domestic visitors making up 48%.

These statistics highlight the regional differences in the use of short-term lets, with the South West attracting a larger proportion of domestic tourists, while Scotland sees a more balanced mix of international and domestic visitors. This data underscores the significant role short-term lets play in the UK’s tourism industry and the varying patterns of visitor demographics across different regions.


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