Residents in one of Wiltshire's most popular towns for tourists are fearing the loss of available housing due to an increase in short-term holiday lets by Airbnb.

The popular website, which allows people to rent out their homes short term, is being blamed for homes in Marlborough being removed from the market, with tenants even facing eviction from landlords looking for more income by using the San Francisco-based service.

The trend is claimed to be having a knock-on effect on house prices in the town as well as a diminishing sense of community in the area.

"The problem is it takes away from long-term renters and first-time buyers as they are usually smaller properties," said Marlborough resident Ollie Simons.

"Also they somehow seem to do it all without planning. Surely if turning a domestic property into a commercial property then at least a change of use should be applied for."

Five years ago, the residential area Alma Place near Marlborough's High Street earned an 'It's Your Neighbourhood' award from South West in Bloom. 

But since then almost a quarter of the homes on Alma Road have been converted to Airbnb rentals, claims former town mayor David Chandler who has said the community "has been destroyed by an increasing number of properties being converted".

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: There are currently 34 active Airbnb listings in Marlborough and many more in the surrounding villages.There are currently 34 active Airbnb listings in Marlborough and many more in the surrounding villages. (Image: Airbnb)

At Marlborough Town Council's planning meeting on February 26, 2024, he said many of the town's tenants have been given notice to leave so houses can be rented out on Airbnb.

More than 30 properties in the small town are thought to be available to rent on the website, many of which are clustered in a compact area.

The larger homes with eight beds can be rented out for up to £642 a night.

The council say that as planning permission is not required to convert a house to an Airbnb, it is a difficult issue to monitor.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Marlborough relies heavily on tourism and is a popular destination for visitors.Marlborough relies heavily on tourism and is a popular destination for visitors. (Image: Ben Phillips Photography)

"More Airbnbs equals fewer houses available to rent for people who live and work in the area all year around," added resident Jayne Southwell Drew.

In November 2023, the council were urged by Councillor Mark Cooper to declare a 'housing emergency' after it was revealed that the average house price was twice that of the national average.

“Without the support of my parents there is absolutely no way I would have been able to stay in the town that my family have been in for generations,” he said.

But while concerns about Airbnbs are rising among residents, many others have pointed out that the increased tourism is welcome in such a picturesque and historic town which relies on the industry.

A spokesperson for Airbnb said: “We recognise the housing challenges counties face and we support the new rules for short-term lets in England, which give local authorities the information they need to clampdown on speculators and protect everyday Brits who Host to earn additional income.

"The typical entire home listing in Wiltshire is shared for around 4 nights a month and two-thirds of UK Hosts say they use the money from hosting to cover the rising cost of living."