By using this website, you agree to our use of cookies to enhance your experience.
Graham Awards


Airbnb Bonanza - huge rise in short let property numbers

Figures publicised in a new House of Commons report suggests there’s been a huge rise in the number of short lets in almost every part of the UK over the past five years.

The exception is Scotland, where draconian restrictions now exist on individuals letting out their homes, rooms or separate properties via short-let platforms.

VisitBritain, the government-funded national tourism agency, publishes monthly reports on short-term rentals, based on data collected by Lighthouse, a hospitality industry data and consultancy company that tracks short let rental listings worldwide. 


Lighthouse tracks listings on Airbnb, Booking.com, Vrbo and TripAdvisor to maintain its own database, and removes duplicate listings when they are spotted. 

The latest Lighthouse report - cited in a House of Commons library document just released - says there are around 451,000 available short-term rental properties on these platforms in February 2024 in Great Britain, an increase of 31% on February 2019. Of these properties, around 370,000 were in England. 

These figures include entire properties, private rooms and shared rooms. These properties may be in use as short-term lets some of the time and as someone’s main residence the rest of the time. 

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 quoted in the Commons library report, show that in England there were around 9.9m nights spent in short-term let accommodation in July to September 2023. Most of these nights were occupied by visitors from the UK (62%). 

The South West had the highest proportion of nights spent in short-term lets relative to population, followed by Scotland. For the South West, the majority of visitors were domestic tourists (78%) whereas for Scotland they were almost evenly split (52% international visitors and 48% domestic). 

Want to comment on this story? Our focus is on providing a platform for you to share your insights and views and we welcome contributions.
If any post is considered to victimise, harass, degrade or intimidate an individual or group of individuals, then the post may be deleted and the individual immediately banned from posting in future.
Please help us by reporting comments you consider to be unduly offensive so we can review and take action if necessary. Thank you.

  • George Dawes

    More fool them

    Look up the reviews on trustpilot

    Terrifying is an understatement

  • icon

    Why are they telling this as if we didn’t know, did they need a Lighthouse Report to tell them there’s a huge rise in Short Term lets that they themselves caused by Removing Section 21.
    Go on then make more stupid laws because of the previous ones you made.


    You are right Michael; the Renters Reform legislation was bad law.

    Politicians only have the right to control the private sector renting if they produce improvements. If their initiatives cause everything to be worse for all concerned then their actions are no longer legitimate and not in accordance with Human Rights legislation.

    There is no doubt that the threat of the removal of Section 21 since 2019 has resulted in more Section 21 notices being served, higher rents and a diminution in the housing stock available to those who need it.

    The Labour Party has now created a crisis by previously saying Section 21 will go as soon as they take office, and it seems likely that they will do that in a few weeks time now.

    Both parties could avert a worse housing crisis by thinking of the consequences before they speak and act. Try putting themselves in the landlords' places.

    For one thing, landlords don't want to be under surveillance, not because they have anything to hide, but because they fear that situations will be misinterpreted - wrongly and dishonestly.

    Also Landlords require control of their properties. If they can't control them, then they can't entrust them to strangers.

  • icon

    I have short term lets in Scotland, mainly using the AirBnb platform and business is better than last year! I'll keep them going until the Scottish government kicks that business to death too, then I'll sell them. Airbnb have been a fantastic platform for me with very few issues in the few years I've been using them. Recommended. 👍

  • icon

    Prior to introduction of Section 21 serviced lettings were becoming more popular as a way to avoid sitting tenants. Until this market is also killed off by Labour it is a safer investment than PRS.


    It seems to me to be OK to let as a serviced flat i.e. give the tenants a licence as opposed to a tenancy if they are leaving in a shortish time, but I worry about the legal situation if they actually want to stay indefinitely.

    Holiday lets have previously been exempt from the security of tenure provisions, but that exemption was removed from the Renters Reform bill - it is stlll valid at the moment. Serviced flats are also probably OK if the occupant has a main residence elsewhere because their accommodation wouldn't be covered by the Housing Acts either.

    The major issue I think is that lots of people wishing to stay long-term want to rent serviced flats if the price is right, but there aren't many people who want to rent for just a few months who apply to rent one because there are only a tiny number of people who are looking, who fall into the latter category.


    The other point about serviced flats is whether it is legitimate at the moment to let them to students as opposed to renting them a non-inclusive, non-serviced flat as a shorthold assured tenancy.

    In its response to the Cowan report Labour stated:

    “In government, Labour would act where the Conservatives fail to ensure fairness and security for renters, immediately abolishing Section 21, ending tenant bidding wars and extending Awaab’s law to the private rented sector.”

    So if you give students a shorthold assured tenancy for the academic year 2024-2025 you would not be able to serve a Section 21 notice to end the tenancy (assuming Labour wins the next election).

    We don't know what Labour legislation will look like.

    What will be their requirements to be able to serve notice to end a student tenancy?

    Will there be any such provision in their legislation?

    Should landlords wait for July 4th to let to students?

    Is there any possibility that Labour might say sooner than July 4th exactly what their requirements are in relation to students lets? I have students contacting me NOW who would like to rent for 2024-2025, and I would like to know the legal situation - and so would they.

  • Zoe S

    Labour is so very anti landlords - in my opinion the PRS market will deteriorate further. I most definitely will not be voting for them!


Please login to comment

MovePal MovePal MovePal
sign up