COUNCILLORS have asked officials to look at ways to ban second homes and holiday lets in Brighton and Hove.

They agreed to target hotspots rather than impose a city-wide ban, with the focus likely to fall on areas where more than one in five homes are not the owners’ main residence.

A Brighton and Hove City Council report said that a “principal residence policy” would apply to new builds only.

And the report added that more than 3,000 properties could currently be in use as short-term holiday lets – some of them party houses.

There are believed to be a significant number of second homes that are also left vacant for a large part of the year – and unavailable for local people needing somewhere to live.

Critics believe that the large number of second homes and holiday lets also contributes to making house prices and rent levels increasingly hard to afford for a growing number of people.

If a ban is brought in, Brighton and Hove would become the first city or large urban area to adopt this approach.

The report – to the council’s Tourism, Equalities, Communities and Culture Committee – said that similar bans have been approved “in very small rural or coastal communities and largely through neighbourhood plans”.

Any ban would be similar to restrictions on new shared houses also known as houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) and sometimes referred to as student houses.

Labour councillor Amanda Evans said that the threshold should be 15 per cent of homes – not 20 per cent – for a second homes ban.

And, she said, the council should “keep the option open” for a city-wide ban until the 2021 Census data comes.

The Queen’s Park ward councillor said that central Brighton, particularly her ward, was affected by the hidden poverty of people in low-wage service jobs renting privately.

She said: “All of that is highly connected to the frankly insane cost of housing in the city – to buy, rent or the land to build on.

“Younger employees at the council are moving out to Worthing because they can’t afford to live in Brighton.

“In my own ward, the Edward Street Quarter, I understand, is already 75 per cent sold off plan for outrageously high prices, and I bet you they’re not being bought by people who are going to live in them themselves.”

Councillor Evans also mentioned striking staff at the St James Tavern, saying that they did not even earn enough money to live near where they worked.

Green councillor Marianna Ebel said that national legislation was needed to regulate existing holiday lets which were blighting parts of Brighton and Hove.

Councillor Ebel, who represents Goldsmid ward, said that a former family home in her ward was now a holiday let for up to 10 guests, resulting in complaints from neighbours about noise and anti-social behaviour.

Councillor Ebel said: “We need to do something. We have a housing crisis and thousands of residents are on our housing waiting list.

“When flats and houses are used for short-term holiday lets and second homes, it not only reduces the number of housing units but causes massive problems for neighbours such as anti-social behaviour.”

The committee voted eight to two for officials to carry out further work on the proposed ban, with the Greens and Labour in favour and the Conservatives against.