Posted: Wed 22nd Mar 2023

Farmers’ Union concern over Welsh Government’s statutory licensing for accommodation providers

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Mar 22nd, 2023


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The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) has expressed concern over proposals by the Welsh Government to introduce a statutory licensing scheme for accommodation providers in Wales.

In its response to the consultation, the Union stressed that a free statutory registration scheme should be introduced instead.

The Welsh Government says the statutory licensing scheme aims is to establish a ‘level playing field’ for all visitor accommodation businesses operating in the sector.

“The concern around the lack of a level playing field has been a long-standing area of discussion with concerns certain parts of the sector do not meet or comply with their statutory obligations.”

FUW Farm Diversification Committee Chair Dewi Owen said:

“There is a strong feeling amongst the community of farmers who have diversified into self-catering accommodation that many Welsh Government policies designed with good intention to tackle the impacts of second homes and short-term holiday lets will have a detrimental impact on genuine providers.”

“The Welsh Government must ensure that such policies do not result in an irreversible impact for the Welsh tourism industry, which in turn leads to a sharp increase in the number of accommodation providers operating under the radar.”

“Consequently this could also lead to empty properties which cannot be used for residential purposes due to planning conditions.”

In its response, the FUW also highlighted that there is great concern that the proposed scheme will be considered as an enforcement tool by creating more barriers and bureaucratic requirements for genuine accommodation providers, and used to collect a tourism levy, to which the FUW has previously opposed.

The consultation further highlighted the Welsh Government’s intentions to introduce a licensing scheme based on a similar model to Rent Smart Wales.

“We are opposed to the proposals to use a similar model to Rent Smart Wales which has clearly created additional barriers for landlords attempting to provide for the rented sector, resulting in many properties being left unoccupied or sold as second homes which in turn has exacerbated the second home crisis,” added Mr Owen.

FUW Senior Policy and Communication Officer Gareth Parry added:

“In all our responses and communication to the Welsh Government we have emphasised the need to differentiate between genuine accommodation providers and those who both inhabit and let second homes at different times of the year.”

“Whilst robust monitoring and policing of such properties would significantly close this loophole, it has previously been proposed by the FUW that a statutory registration scheme is introduced in order to closely monitor the number of AirBnB and holiday home type properties in Wales alongside identifying the bureaucratic barriers landlords are facing when attempting to provide for the rented sector.”

The FUW is encouraging members to raise any concerns they may have regarding the incoming changes for holiday lets on 1 April with their county office.

The Welsh Government believes a statutory licensing scheme could help address compliance concerns by providing a regulatory mechanism for the industry.

In addition, the government says that a licensing scheme could also help create a comprehensive database of all visitor accommodation businesses in Wales.

Currently, it is difficult to determine the exact number of businesses operating in the industry, as there is no centralised database.

A licensing scheme could help create a more accurate picture of the sector.

Finally, the government believes that a licensing scheme could also provide valuable insights into the scale and nature of the visitor accommodation sector in Wales.

By requiring businesses to register and obtain a license, the government could gain a better understanding of the types of businesses operating in the sector, the services they offer, and the impact they have on local communities.

 

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