Penalties for problem party flats

MSP Sarah Boyack, centre, receives a petition from Grove Street residents Stan Player, and from back left, Karen Wigley, Leonara McAndrew and Isabel Thom. Picture: Julie Bull
MSP Sarah Boyack, centre, receives a petition from Grove Street residents Stan Player, and from back left, Karen Wigley, Leonara McAndrew and Isabel Thom. Picture: Julie Bull
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Hefty penalties are set to be dished out to two problem party flats in a move campaigners claim will be a “game-changer” and will help stamp out unlawful lets across ­Edinburgh.

City planners have recommended that enforcement action be taken against two flats on Grove Street in ­Haymarket in the first cases of formal prosecution since new planning guidelines were ­introduced in February.

Landlords can be fined up to £20,000 if they do not comply with the enforcement notices.

Council chiefs strengthened laws earlier this year, ­requiring landlords to apply for ­planning permission for flats to be rented out to stag and hen ­parties.

Both Grove Street flats have generated a high volume of complaints over noise and ­nuisance in recent years.

Tormented neighbours claimed as recently as May that their quiet neighbourhood was being disturbed by 20-strong groups of rowdy revellers every Friday night.

Retired veterinary surgeon Bruce Borthwick, who helped take the campaign against party flats to the Scottish ­Parliament, said the offending landlords on Grove St deserved the “most extreme punishment” available.

He said: “We have to bring to the attention of the people who are making vast amounts of money out of this illegal activity that the game’s up and they have to revert to lettings in excess of eight and possibly even ten days.

“This does not interfere with festival flats or normal, decent people renting an apartment for two weeks or a month.”

Landlords now need planning permission to change a flat’s use from residential property to “short-stay commercial leisure apartments”, depending on the size of the property, the character of the area and the numbers involved.

The council does not normally grant permission in cases likely to have an adverse impact on neighbours.

Tory planning spokeswoman Joanna Mowat, who previously backed the changes, said the council had already received a number of applications for short-stay commercial leisure apartments under the new ­regulations.

She said: “The policy needed to be tested to see whether it will help those residents who have appealed to council to help them.” The policy is due to be reviewed at the end of next month.

Lothians Labour MSP Sarah Boyack said: “Residents have had to put up with regular ­disruption to their lives for far too long.

“It’s several years since ­residents first got in touch with me and have argued that the Scottish Government and the council needed to act.

“I hope this time we’ll get the result we have campaigned for.”

City is blighted

GROVE Street in Haymarket is not the only location in Edinburgh that has been affected by party flats.

Police have been called on multiple occasions to apartments on the Canongate because of problems with antisocial crowds.

It is understood there are about 14 party flats in the Capital.