Call for crackdown on short-term lets in Edinburgh

Andy Wightman MSP
Andy Wightman MSP
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A change in the law is needed to tackle the growing issue of short-term letting in Edinburgh and beyond, a Green MSP has said.

Lothian MSP Andy Wightman wants councils to be handed powers to control the number of properties available for short-term rent.

Mr Wightman said he had been contacted by numerous constituents after raising the issue in the Scottish Parliament in January.

At the time he highlighted issues in the Old Town and Grassmarket areas of Edinburgh, including one property being used for “very audible sex parties”.

The MSP has now published a report looking at the scale of the issue in the Capital, which shows more than 6,200 properties are available for short-term let - more than half (55%) of which are entire homes where the owner is not present.

The research forecasts that at the current rate of short-term rent registrations, more than half of properties in the EH1 postcode - covering the Old Town - could be short-term lets by 2051.

The report highlights issues that can arise from such lets including antisocial behaviour, a loss of community, the displacing of available housing for prospective residents, an avoidance of non-domestic business rates by landlords and concerns about property security.

The Scottish Greens have called for changes to planning and licensing law to reflect the growth in short-terms lets.

Mr Wightman said: “I am calling for new powers to enable councils to plan and regulate the use of residential property for short-term lets.

“Many constituents have contacted me in recent months to raise their concerns about the widespread growth of this sector in their communities.

“It is clear that we need to find a simple solution and one such way is through the introduction of new Use Class Orders in the planning system.”

Meanwhile, the Scottish Government has launched a consultation on proposals to ensure all privately-rented homes in Scotland meet a minimum standard of energy efficiency.

Views are being sought on plans to require all private rented sector properties to have a minimum Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of E at a change in tenancy from 2019, rising to EPC level D from 2022.

Around 28% of private-rented homes have the lowest energy efficiency ratings of E, F and G, compared to 22% in the owner-occupied sector and 10% of social housing.

Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said: “Energy efficiency is a national priority and is key to tackling fuel poverty and meeting our ambitious climate change targets.

“Private renting makes up 14% of Scotland’s homes and is an increasingly important housing option for many people in Scotland at different points in their lives. It is only fair that tenants who rent privately have access to good quality and energy efficient homes.

“This consultation sets out a series of proposals which aims to balance the need to make homes more energy efficient - whilst maintaining a successful private rented sector as a housing option for many thousands of households.”