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Bath Short-Term Rental Regulation: A Guide For Airbnb Hosts

Bath, UK

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What are Short-Term Rental (Airbnb, VRBO) Regulations in Bath, UK?

Short-term rentals through platforms like Airbnb and VRBO have become increasingly popular in tourist destinations like Bath. However, the rapid growth has led to new regulations on these rentals. Here's what you need to know about short-term rental rules in Bath.

Starting a Short-Term Rental Business in Bath

In 2018, the Bath and North East Somerset Council passed new rules requiring short-term rental operators to register their properties and limiting rentals in some cases. The regulations include:

  1. All short-term lets must register with the council. Failing to register can result in fines.
  2. Entire home rentals are limited to 90 days per year if the property is not the owner's primary residence. There is no limit to renting spare rooms in an owner-occupied home.
  3. Safety requirements like smoke and carbon monoxide detectors must be met.
  4. Waste management rules must be followed, with adequate bins provided.

On real estate forums, many Bath locals express frustration with the growth of Airbnbs. One Reddit user shared that in 2015, Bath had 500 long-term rental homes available. In 2023, there were only 2 long-term rentals but over 500 Airbnb listings.

Another Bath resident on Reddit described issues living next to an Airbnb party house, with noise and disturbances impacting neighbors. Despite complaints, they felt the rules were not being enforced.

While some hosts continue to skirt the regulations, the council is cracking down. Enforcement can be challenging with the volume of listings, but the city has signaled it will be more aggressive in upholding the 90-day limit and registration requirements.

MP Wera Hobhouse has called for fast-tracking the proposed national registration scheme for short-term rentals. This would require hosts to add their property to a central database, making it easier for councils to regulate.

So, in summary, Bath has taken steps to restrict and regulate short-term rentals, especially for non-owner occupied entire home listings. But with the lucrative tourist market, some hosts are finding ways around the rules for now. Stricter enforcement and improved national legislation are likely on the horizon as the UK grapples with the impacts of the booming short-term rental industry on housing and communities.

Short-Term Rental Licensing Requirement in Bath

Currently, there is no specific licensing requirement for short-term rentals or Airbnbs in Bath. However, there have been discussions and proposals to introduce a licensing scheme to regulate the growing short-term rental market in the city.

In September 2018, the Bath and North East Somerset Council held a meeting to discuss the impacts of short-term rentals on the local community. During the meeting, several speakers expressed concerns about the lack of regulation and enforcement of safety standards for short-term rentals.

Mark Cole, who runs two B&Bs in Bath, suggested that regulations and enforcement similar to those required for Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) should be put in place for short-term rentals. He argued that this would help ensure the safety of guests and level the playing field for traditional accommodation providers.

David Weston, Chairman of the Bed and Breakfast Association, also spoke at the meeting and supported the idea of a licensing system. He mentioned that he had given evidence to similar inquiries by the House of Lords and the Scottish Government, advocating for better regulation of the short-term rental industry.

Some Airbnb hosts, like Julie Green, expressed willingness to comply with potential licensing requirements. Green stated that she would be happy for her property to be inspected by the Council to ensure it meets safety standards.

The recommendations from the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) inquiry on the "Sharing Economy" could pave the way for a licensing scheme for short-term lets set at a local level. However, implementing such a scheme would require a new Act of Parliament or an amendment to existing legislation.

While Bath does not currently have a mandatory licensing system for short-term rentals, the growing concerns about safety, fairness, and the impact on local communities have led to calls for better regulation. The Bath and North East Somerset Council is considering options to address these issues, and a licensing scheme could be a potential solution in the future.

Required Documents for Bath Short-Term Rentals

To register a short-term rental property in Bath, owners must submit several required documents as part of the application process. Having these documents prepared in advance can help streamline the registration and licensing.

The key required documents for a Bath short-term rental registration include:

  • Completed Short-Term Rental Registration Form
  • Proof of ownership (title deeds, land registry documents, etc.)
  • Floorplan sketch with room dimensions and locations of smoke/CO detectors
  • Gas Safety Certificate (CP12) for any gas appliances
  • Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) dated within last 5 years
  • Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) report for any portable electrical items
  • Evidence of public liability insurance (minimum £2 million coverage)
  • Fire Risk Assessment document
  • Legionella Risk Assessment for any property with a hot tub
  • 24/7 contact details for owner or property management company
  • Proof of planning permission for change of use, if applicable
  • Application fee payment

The Short-Term Rental Registration Form collects key details about the property, owner, and operations. Proof of ownership ensures the person registering has the legal right to let the property.

The floorplan sketch helps verify the rental meets space and safety requirements. Gas and electrical certificates show the property's utilities are in safe working order. Regular PAT testing of portable appliances is also required.

Sufficient liability insurance protects both the owner and guests. Fire and legionella assessments identify and mitigate any risks related to fire safety and waterborne illnesses, especially critical for rentals with hot tubs.

Providing 24/7 contact information gives guests an emergency contact during their stay. For rentals that needed planning permission for a change of use, documentation must be provided.

Organizing these required documents is essential to receiving approval to operate a short-term rental in Bath. The Bath and North East Somerset Council reviews the application packet carefully to ensure the property is safe and compliant before issuing a license. Consulting with the Council directly can provide the most up-to-date document requirements.

Bath Short-Term Rental Taxes

In addition to registration requirements, short-term rental operators in Bath must also collect and remit applicable taxes. Understanding the tax obligations is crucial for running a compliant rental business.

Currently, there is no specific tourist or occupancy tax in Bath or the surrounding area. However, short-term rental income is subject to UK income tax. Rental hosts must report their rental income on their annual Self Assessment tax return. The amount of tax owed depends on the host's total income and tax band.

Certain expenses related to operating the rental, such as cleaning fees, maintenance, insurance, and utilities, can be deducted from the rental income to reduce the tax liability. However, if the property is also used for personal purposes, only a portion of the expenses may be deductible.

It's important to keep detailed records of all rental transactions and expenses to support tax filings. Using a separate bank account for the rental business can help with tracking.

If the rental property is furnished, it may also be subject to business rates rather than council tax. Business rates are based on the property's "rateable value" set by the Valuation Office Agency. Small business rates relief may be available for properties with a rateable value under £15,000.

Value Added Tax (VAT) may also apply to some short-term rentals. If the host is VAT-registered and provides additional services like meals or cleaning, VAT may need to be charged and remitted. However, most short-term rental hosts fall below the VAT threshold and do not need to register.

Short-term rental operators in Bath should consult with a qualified tax professional to ensure they are correctly reporting rental income and deductions. Proper tax compliance from the start can prevent issues down the road.

As the popularity of holiday rentals grows in Bath, it's possible that new taxes or fees could be introduced in the future. The Bath and North East Somerset Council has discussed the idea of a tourist levy or occupancy tax to help manage the impacts of high visitor numbers. Hosts should stay informed of any potential changes to the local tax landscape.

Bath Wide Short-Term Rental Rules

In addition to the registration, licensing, and tax requirements, Bath has several rules that apply to all short-term rentals citywide. These regulations aim to balance the needs of tourists and local residents while preserving the character of residential neighborhoods.

Some key Bath-wide short-term rental rules include:

  1. 90-day limit: Entire home rentals are limited to 90 days per year if the property is not the owner's primary residence. There is no limit to renting spare rooms in an owner-occupied home.
  2. Mandatory registration: All short-term lets must register with the Bath and North East Somerset Council. Failing to register can result in fines.
  3. Safety standards: Rentals must meet all health and safety requirements, including smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, fire extinguishers, and regular gas/electric checks.
  4. Occupancy limits: The number of guests allowed is based on the number and size of bedrooms. Overcrowding properties is not permitted.
  5. Noise and nuisance rules: Guests must not create excessive noise or disturbances that negatively impact neighbors. Owners are responsible for handling any complaints.
  6. Waste management: Owners must provide adequate bins and follow local waste collection schedules. Overflowing bins or rubbish left out can attract pests and fines.
  7. Parking requirements: Rentals should provide sufficient off-street parking for guests where possible. On-street parking in residential areas is often limited.
  8. Planning permission for change of use: Owners wishing to rent out entire properties for more than 90 days per year may need to apply for planning permission for a change of use from residential to commercial.

These citywide rules are in addition to any specific requirements set by the Council's registration process. The Council has the authority to conduct inspections and issue penalties for non-compliance.

The goal of these regulations is not to discourage tourism but rather to ensure Bath's short-term rental market grows sustainably without negatively impacting local housing and communities. By following the city's rules, short-term rental operators can run successful businesses while being good neighbors.

As Bath grapples with balancing the economic benefits of tourism with the needs of residents, it's likely that short-term rental regulations will continue to evolve. Hosts should stay informed of any changes and work closely with the Council to ensure compliance. With responsible growth and management, short-term rentals can remain a valuable part of Bath's vibrant tourism economy.

Does Bath Strictly Enforce STR Rules?

Based on discussions from real estate investing forums like Bigger Pockets and Reddit, Bath appears to be cracking down on short-term rental regulations compared to some other UK cities. Many locals feel the proliferation of Airbnbs is negatively impacting housing availability and affordability in the historic city.

One Bigger Pockets user shared their experience trying to convert a property in to a short-term rental. They were met with significant pushback from the council, who stated they were unlikely to approve a change of use from residential to commercial for short-term letting purposes. The council cited the need to preserve housing stock for local residents.

Another Bath host on the Bigger Pockets forums warned that the city is actively monitoring short-term rental listings and investigating properties suspected of operating without proper permissions. They mentioned a colleague who was fined for letting out their flat on Airbnb without registering for a change of use.

On Reddit, a Bath resident expressed frustration with the number of entire homes being used as short-term rentals in their neighborhood. They claimed it was difficult to build a sense of community with a constant turnover of tourists and a lack of permanent neighbors. However, they were encouraged that the council seemed to be taking steps to regulate the industry.

Overall, the sentiment is that while Bath hasn't banned short-term rentals outright, the city is taking a more restrictive approach than some other tourist destinations. Hosts are unlikely to fly under the radar, with the council dedicating resources to enforcement. The 90-day annual limit on entire home rentals is also a deterrent for would-be STR investors.

So, in summary, Bath is not the most Airbnb-friendly city, especially compared to areas with lighter regulations. The council's stance prioritizes preserving housing for residents over accommodating short-term rentals. Hosts operating in Bath should be diligent about compliance to avoid fines and other penalties. The STR landscape in Bath will likely continue to face pressure as the council seeks to strike a balance between the tourism economy and housing needs.

How to Start a Short-Term Rental Business in Bath

Starting a short-term rental business in Bath requires careful planning and compliance with local regulations. Here are the key steps to get started:

  1. Research Bath's short-term rental regulations thoroughly. Understand the registration process, 90-day limit for entire property rentals, and other requirements. Consult with the Bath and North East Somerset Council for guidance.
  2. Determine if your property is eligible for short-term renting based on zoning and any lease or HOA restrictions. If renting an entire property for more than 90 days per year, you may need to apply for planning permission for a change of use.
  3. Register your property with the Bath and North East Somerset Council. Submit the required documents, such as proof of ownership, floorplan, safety certificates, and contact information. Pay any applicable registration fees.
  4. Ensure your property meets all health and safety standards, including smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, fire safety measures, and regular gas and electrical checks. Address any issues before listing your property.
  5. Obtain appropriate insurance coverage for your short-term rental. Consult with an insurance broker to find a policy that covers liability, property damage, and loss of rental income.
  6. Set up your business structure and register with HMRC. Choose between operating as a sole trader or limited company, and understand your tax obligations, including income tax and potential VAT.
  7. Create a detailed business plan outlining your target market, pricing strategy, financial projections, and marketing approach. Research the local short-term rental market to ensure your plan is competitive and realistic.
  8. Prepare your property for guests. Furnish and decorate the space to be functional, comfortable, and attractive. Consider hiring a professional photographer to showcase your rental in the best light.
  9. Create a comprehensive listing on popular short-term rental platforms like Airbnb and VRBO. Write an engaging description, highlight unique selling points, and include high-quality photos. Ensure your listing complies with Bath's advertising requirements.
  10. Establish clear house rules and communicate them to guests. Cover topics like noise levels, parking, maximum occupancy, and waste management. Provide a guest welcome book with all necessary information.
  11. Implement a system for managing bookings, communication, and guest screening. Use short-term rental software to automate processes and save time. Have a plan for handling maintenance issues and guest complaints.
  12. Develop a network of reliable service providers, including cleaners, laundry services, and maintenance professionals. Ensure your property is well-maintained and guest-ready between bookings.

By following these steps and staying compliant with Bath's short-term rental regulations, you can build a successful and sustainable business. Keep in mind that the regulatory landscape may evolve, so stay informed and adapt as needed. With careful planning and execution, your Bath short-term rental can thrive in this popular tourist destination.

Who to Contact in Bath about Short-Term Rental Regulations and Zoning?

For questions about short-term rental regulations and zoning in Bath, contact the Bath and North East Somerset Council's Planning Services department or Housing Services team.

Planning Services:
Phone: 01225 394041
Email: development_management@bathnes.gov.uk
Address: Lewis House, Manvers Street, Bath, BA1 1JG
Hours: Monday to Thursday, 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM; Friday, 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM

The Planning Services department can provide information on zoning districts where short-term rentals are allowed and any specific land use regulations that apply. They can also advise on the planning permission process for a change of use if renting an entire property for more than 90 days per year.

Housing Services:
Phone: 01225 396296
Email: housing@bathnes.gov.uk
Address: PO Box 3343, Bath, BA1 2ZH

The Housing Services team can answer questions about the short-term rental registration process, property standards, and enforcement of the 90-day limit on entire property rentals. They also handle complaints about short-term rental properties causing nuisance or disturbance.

When contacting these departments, have your property address and details ready. The staff can look up the specific zoning and registration requirements that apply to your rental.

For general inquiries, you can call the Bath and North East Somerset Council's main switchboard at 01225 477000 or use the "Contact Us" form on their website at beta.bathnes.gov.uk/contact-us. The customer service team will direct your question to the appropriate department for assistance.

Another helpful resource is the Bath Self Catering Association (BSCA), a membership organization for self-catering and short-term rental providers in the area. They offer advice and support to owners navigating the local regulations. You can reach the BSCA at:

Bath Self Catering Association:
Email: info@bathselfcatering.co.uk
Website: www.bathselfcatering.co.uk

By working closely with the Bath and North East Somerset Council and industry groups like the BSCA, you can ensure your short-term rental business operates smoothly and legally in Bath.

What Do Airbnb Hosts in Bath on Reddit and Bigger Pockets Think about Local Regulations?

Discussions on real estate investing forums like Reddit and Bigger Pockets provide insight into how Airbnb hosts view Bath's short-term rental regulations:

On the r/AirBnB subreddit, a host shared their experience trying to register their Bath property as a short-term let. They found the process confusing and time-consuming, with multiple forms to fill out and inspections required. However, they ultimately felt the regulations were necessary to ensure guest safety and neighborhood harmony.

In a Bigger Pockets thread about UK Airbnb opportunities, several hosts discussed the challenges of operating in Bath. One mentioned that the 90-day annual limit on entire home rentals made it difficult to justify the costs of furnishing and managing a property. They suggested focusing on rooms within an owner-occupied home for more flexibility.

Another Bath host on Bigger Pockets warned about the strict enforcement of the city's STR rules. They knew of several hosts who had been fined for operating without proper planning permission or exceeding the 90-day limit. The host advised others to carefully research the regulations and consult with the council before listing a property.

On the r/Bath subreddit, a resident expressed frustration with the number of Airbnbs in their neighborhood. They felt the constant turnover of guests was disruptive and made it harder to build community connections. However, a host replied that the majority of STR operators were responsible and the council's registration scheme would help address any issues.

Overall, the sentiment among Bath Airbnb hosts on these forums is mixed. Some appreciate the council's efforts to regulate the industry and mitigate negative impacts. Others find the rules overly burdensome and a deterrent to operating a successful STR business. Most agree that thoroughly understanding and complying with the regulations is essential to avoid penalties and maintain positive community relations in Bath.

Disclaimer: While we here at BNBCalc strive to keep all of our city regulation guides updated and accurate with all the latest local laws, we still do not suggest using them as your sole or primary source for local regulations. We also do not recommend you rely on the third-party sources we link to or reference, and we are not responsible for any of the information on these third-party sites. These guides are for entertainment purposes only and only provide basic information and should not be considered as legal advice.

We highly recommend directly contacting the responsible parties for each city and hearing what their officials have to say. Ultimately, it's your responsibility as an investor to ensure you fully comply with the local laws, and it's best to speak with professionals before making an investment decision.

⚡️
Reveal your property’s rental profitability

Buy this property and list it on Airbnb.