A drop-off in the number of new flats being placed on Airbnb could signal the Capital has become over-saturated with short-term lets, researchers have suggested.
They quote figures showing the number of properties being added to the list available through the best-known accommodation platform has fallen from over 2500 a year to under 1500.
And they ask: “Has Edinburgh hit peak Airbnb?”
Drawing on Airbnb’s own statistics, the research team at the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICE) say Airbnb registrations in the Capital have soared from just eight in 2009 to more than 12,000 - though not all registrations are necessarily active and some properties may have more than one registration, for example if there are two or three separate rooms to let.
The increasing number of short-term lets has led to concerns about a reduction in the number of houses available for people to live in and the hollowing out of communities, especially in the city centre.
In a blog on the issue, SPICE said Edinburgh now has around 240 Airbnb registrations for every 10,000 people living in the city - which is around the same as in Amsterdam, more than three times more than Dublin, which has around 70 per 10,000 residents but significantly less than Copenhagen, which has approximately 340 registrations per 10,000 residents.
But the blog says the growth in the number of new Airbnb registrations in Edinburgh has slowed over the past couple of years.
“The peak years for growth were clearly 2015 and 2016 when there were over 2500 new registrations each year. In 2018, new registrations were just under 1500. Could this indicate that the Airbnb market in Edinburgh is becoming saturated?
“The decline in new registrations is largely in line with other cities around Europe when looking at proportional change. The proportional growth in new Airbnb registrations in Edinburgh is similar to Amsterdam, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Dublin, Lisbon and London, having fallen from 88 per cent growth between 2013 and 2014 to 14 per cent between 2017 and 2018.
“However, it is difficult to say what has caused this fall. While it could be over saturation, it could also be due to people starting to use other short term let platforms.”
Lothian Green MSP Andy Wightman, who has led calls for more controls over short-term lets, said it was difficult to tell the significance of the figures.
“This is all registrations - people sharing their own home as well as the commercial stuff,” he said.
“I’m always interested in data. The data we have got is not good data, it’s all trend data taken from scraping the Airbnb website.
“Data is really important but I don’t think I’d place a great deal of weight on this data because it’s not disaggregating home-sharing and commercial lets.
“A growth in home-sharing is not really a problem - in fact we could do with more because people like the Fringe are concerned about a lack of accommodation.
“But the growth in commercial letting is problematic because that has impacts on the housing stock.
“The blog is right, it could well be because there are other platforms pushing themselves more heavily.”
An Airbnb spokeswoman said: “Just last week we announced we had reached over half a billion guest arrivals since launching in 2008, with Europe still the most popular destination for guests on our platform. Airbnb is built on the principles of making communities stronger and spreading tourism benefits to local families and businesses.”
She claimed experts agreed Airbnb had no significant impact on the housing market in Scotland.
And she added: “We continue to be committed to working with local partners on clear home sharing rules that work for everyone.”