Real Estate Tip of the Week: Short-term visitor accommodation - a material change of use?

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Real Estate Tip of the Week: Short-term visitor accommodation - a material change of use?

Published 9 April 2019

In a decision dated 4 March 2019, the Planning Inspectorate upheld enforcement notices issued by Cambridge City Council alleging that 13 of 19 apartments (the “Appeal Flats”) in two residential apartment blocks (with use class C3) were instead being used as short-term visitor accommodation (sui generis).

The Planning Inspectorate was presented with the following facts:

  • Initially the Appeal Flats were typically let for between 3-4 nights per week up to approximately 10 nights. However, a length of stay table indicated that 77% of the lets were for 1-2 night stays.
  • Over a thousand bookings were made at the Appeal Flats over a 11 month period from March 2017 to January 2018.
  • A ‘welcome pack’ was provided and linen and towels were changed weekly.
  • Permanent residents in the other 6 apartments had not complained about the commercial use of the Appeal Flats though those letting the Appeal Flats had made complaints.
  • Visitors were more likely to arrive or depart at anti-social hours than permanent residents.
  • The Appeal Flats were intended to have longer lets in the future geared towards corporate lets. However, there was no minimum nights’ stay for letting of the Appeal Flats and, therefore, any void in bookings was likely to be filled by shorter lets.

The Inspectorate’s decision adopts the approach set out in the High Court judgment in Moore – which is essentially determining as a question of fact and degree whether the characteristics of the use constitute a material change from a C3 use to a commercial residential use. Importantly, the Planning Inspectorate emphasised that the decision must be decided on the factual matrix at the time of issue of the notices and little weight is to be given to subsequent events.

The decision can be read here.

Authors

Rajpreet Hayre

Rajpreet Hayre

London - Walbrook

+44 (0) 20 7894 64600

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