Shark House Oxford

By Fern Thompson,

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Toast Lettings News Posting


The owner of a famous house with a 25ft shark sticking out of the roof has been told he can no longer rent it out on Airbnb.

The quirky property, known as the Headington Shark House, has been available for short term let on the site for the last five years in Oxford, with visitors flocking to see the shark sculpture crashing through the roof. It’s also a hit with guests and can sleep up to 10 people, with prices for a two-night stay reaching as much as £2k.

However, owner Magnus Hanson-Heine has now been ordered to remove it from the site because he doesn’t have the right planning permission.

The issue arises out of Oxford City Council requiring private residences to get planning permission to become a short term rental.

The short-term rental market came under the Governments spotlight – sparking a review which included a consultation with local authorities that closed in June last year.  Scotland has now introduced new licensing rules which are being challenged in the courts.

In England the rules are currently piecemeal depending on local authorities to decide if they wish to bring in requirements for landlords to get planning permission.

The reason for this push to licence is that Airbnb type lettings are being blamed for shortages in the traditional rental market.

This is at best a simplistic view of a very complicated issue where the building and provision of affordable housing in the UK has been an issue for decades. Thinking that regulating less than 300,000 homes across England will improve the situation is not addressing the real problem especially when you consider that there are 261,189 long term empty properties in England alone.

According to one estimate commissioned by the National Housing Federation (NHF) and Crisis from Heriot-Watt University, around 340,000 new homes need to be supplied in England each year, of which 145,000 should be affordable. In 2023 only 210,320 new homes were built of which only 63,605 were classed as affordable.

The provision of Short Term accommodation has created thousands of jobs across the UK as well as providing Landlords with an alternative to long term rental in a difficult financial market and should not become the scapegoat for a historical failure in the UK housing market.

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