After complaints from residents, Brighton & Hove City Council is looking into so called Party Houses – private homes in residential areas that are let out for short-term lets [usually a long weekend] to sometimes large groups of visitors [often stag & hen parties].
It is not unknown for three bedroom houses to host parties of up to 21 people. It is uncertain exactly how many Party Houses are available in the city but East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service estimates something in the region of 300. Because the number of ‘guests’ is quite large, considerable sums can be generated even charging quite modest amounts per person for the rental of a house. An article on the Brighton & Hove Independent newspaper [25.10.13] quotes a fee of £2,660 for 20 people at a property in Park Crescent Place.
Inevitably residents in a street where there can often be several Party Houses are less than happy about the noise and disruption sometimes associated with people visiting the city with the express intention of having a party.
ECONOMIC PARTNERSHIP COMMENT
The Party House owners will point to the contribution that visitor to the city make to the overall economy. Since the Party House business is largely unregulated it is difficult to know what that contribution is.
But since the Party House business is quite clearly a business, the starting point to address any problems should be to treat it as such. Hotels and guest houses are tightly regulated in terms of health & safety and fire regulations. Twenty one people sleeping seven to a room in a three bedroom guest house would never be allowed. Any absence of a fire plan for evacuation and fire extinguishers on site would probably get the guest house temporarily closed down.
Any house that is let in such a blatantly commercial way should probably be subject to Uniform Business Rates instead of council tax and, depending on the exact nature of the letting, may require planning consent to operate as a business.
The business itself should be registered with HMRC for company tax and, if its turnover exceeds the threshold of £77,000 per annum [£1,480 per week], for VAT as well.
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