Airbnb owners in Edinburgh offered help to avoid financial ruin after festivals cancellation

Airbnb hosts in Edinburgh are being offered free advice to get their properties on to the long-term rental market to avoid financial ruin in the wake of the cancellation of the city’s festivals.
Edinburgh's Old Town is said to have the highest concentration of Airbnb listings in the UK. Picture: Mihaela Bodlovic.Edinburgh's Old Town is said to have the highest concentration of Airbnb listings in the UK. Picture: Mihaela Bodlovic.
Edinburgh's Old Town is said to have the highest concentration of Airbnb listings in the UK. Picture: Mihaela Bodlovic.

A leading property agency has launched a helpline service to landlords worried about suffering “potentially huge losses” this summer as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Edinburgh-based Rettie is offering the advice after reporting a dramatic slide in the number of Airbnb properties listed in the city.

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Experts say they expect most homes in the city which were turned into short-term lets to become available for long-term rents due to the slump in the tourism market and the house sales market going into lockdown.

Rettie has reported a 27 per cent drop between the first quarter of 2019 and last month, while also seeing an increase of 50 per cent in the number of long-terms rentals over the last year.

However a further slump in the Airbnb market is expected after the official cancellation last week of the Edinburgh International Festival, the Fringe, the Tattoo and the city’s art and book festivals.

Edinburgh’s Old Town was believed to have the highest concentration of properties being let out anywhere in the UK at the start of this year and the Airbnb site was listing nearly 12,0000 properties in the city at the end of last year.

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However that figure had slumped to just over 8,500 before the plug was pulled on the city’s money-spinning festivals, which some experts have valued at more than £1 billion to the city’s economy.

Business leaders in the city have already warned that the loss of the cultural events will trigger a second wave of job losses and companies collapsing.

Airbnb landlords have been badly hit around the world after the travel website has offered to refund bookings for trips until the end of May, as long as they were made before 14 March.

Hosts in Edinburgh were alsofacing the prospect of much greater regulation of the short-term let sector from next year under recently approved Scottish Government legislation.

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In a social media post, Rettie states: “With the sad news that the Edinburgh Festival will no longer go ahead, we’re offering free personalised lettings consultations for landlords and hosts to discuss their options. Speak to our experts today.”

The company’s website states: “Are you facing potentially huge losses as a result of the coronavirus pandemic? It’s a worrying time for Airbnb and short lets landlords as the global tourism industry is dramatically impacted.

“We have years of experience in both short and long lets and can offer you our expertise to help you navigate the current rental market.

“There has been a spike in interest from holiday and short-lets landlords who are now considering longer term lettings.

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“Most of these enquiries centre around concerns over short-term loss of income due to the impact of coronavirus on the global tourism industry.Many Airbnb hosts are now considering their options to ensure they sustain an ongoing income from their property to help ensure they are able to meet their long-term financial goals.”

Dr John Boyle, director of research and strategy at Rettie, said: “Given the cancellation of the festivals, I imagine that most whole short term properties will probably come back into long term rent.

“There will still be a tourism market but I imagine it will be seriously affected for some time to come and long term rents will provide a greater level of security, particularly given people can’t really sell just now.

“I think advertised rents will fall over the next six months or so at least.”