Beach hut owners in Herne Bay and Whitstable hit with huge fee hike to sublet seafront shacks
Beach shack owners have been asked to pay five times as much to rent their shacks after cracking down on antisocial behavior.
Canterbury City Council has acted after receiving several complaints from angry local residents about noise and rubbish caused by visitors holding gatherings at the seafront cottages in Herne Bay and Whitstable.
Because of these concerns, the agency’s cabinet has decided to increase the amount that owners must pay for the sublease privilege.
Previously they paid 20% of their leasehold fee, which at Whitstable was an additional £155 on top of the £755 annual fee.
Now they have to pay 100% of the annual fee – an additional £755 in Whitstable and £548 in Herne Bay.
Seasalter Councilman Ashley Clark told colleagues he supports “tightening the screw” on anyone who rents out the cabins to vacationers who cause a nuisance on the district’s beaches.
“If there’s anyone who should be making money subletting cabins, it should be the community because it’s our country,” the Conservative said.
“If they make money at our expense, which they effectively do, then we benefit.”
Despite the significant increase in subletting fees, a council official told Cabinet: “The fee is not a source of revenue for the council.
“There are so few people who do it that it makes little difference to us.”
Authorities initially considered banning subletting altogether.
When asked if it should be banned earlier this year, 59% of beach shack owners thought it shouldn’t be allowed, while just 35% thought it should be.
But after KentOnline reported that some owners feared they would have to sell their seaside cabins if the ban were enforced, the idea was scrapped.
There are 663 beach cottages in the district that are privately owned but have an annual site fee paid to the community.
Eighteen of them have permission to be sublet for short periods and only 13 have active subleases.
Despite this, Reculver Conservative Rachel Carnac suggested reconsidering plans for a total ban.
“Maybe we should take a look [stopping] Sublet point in the future,” she added.
“If we sublet, we should sublet for significantly larger amounts of money.”
More than half of the cabin owners told the community that they had problems renting out cabins.
About a third support increasing the sublease fee, while 45% oppose it.
Cabinet members heard from officials: “The complaints are all about anti-social behavior, noise, rubbish – basically people party in a shack when they rent it”.
Councilors also voted to limit the size of groups who can rent cabins to eight people and reduce the notice period the agency must give owners before they withdraw their right to sublet from nine months to six months.