Holiday let owners turning to long-term lets as COVID-19 hits Edinburgh's short-term let industry

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Campaigners have welcomed the move and called for the properties to stay as homes after the crisis ends.

Grassroot campaign groups fighting against the proliferation of short-term and holiday lets in Edinburgh have expressed their ‘delight’ over the return of properties to the long-term rental market due to coronavirus.

While no data is officially available to track the number of former short-term lets and holiday lets being put on the market, many properties listed on such as Rightmove and Zoopla appear to have recently been operating as short-term lets.

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Many sport pictures of fully set kitchen tables of towels folded on beds, signs the photos were used as holiday lets until recently.

People operating short-term lets such as Airbnbs are returning to the long-term rental marketPeople operating short-term lets such as Airbnbs are returning to the long-term rental market
People operating short-term lets such as Airbnbs are returning to the long-term rental market

The outbreak of coronavirus and the subsequent travel restrictions and lockdown has led to the number of tourists drop substantially and demand for holiday lets plummet.

Campaign group PLACEEdinburgh said properties appear to be returning to the long-term rental market “in droves”.

A spokesman for the group said: “PLACE are thrilled to see what appears to be a flood of new rental properties appearing across the city providing much needed homes at this critical time.

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“Short-term letting businesses affected by the current restrictions on travel appear to be returning their properties to the long term rental market in droves.

“We sincerely hope that once the ban on non-essential travel is lifted, that these properties stay as homes and do not flip back to unlawful short-term lets.”

However, the group raised concerns about some properties being advertised without a landlord registration number or with ‘maximum tenancies’, outlawed when the Scottish Government introduced the new open-ended private residential tenancies in 2017.

PLACE added: “Equally concerning is the large number of unlawful short-term lets who are continuing to short-term let their properties to visitors despite the instruction given by the First Minister at the weekend that hotels, B&Bs and self-catering accommodation should not be accepting visitors.

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“On checking Airbnb, , Flipkey and Visit Scotland today there were hundreds of entire properties in Edinburgh, largely in tenements, who were still accepting short-stay bookings for this weekend.

“We desperately hope that the entirely irresponsible attitudes of these businesses, and the platforms that facilitate them, will not have grave consequences for neighbours who have no choice but to share communal stairs and spaces with them.

“We have highlighted our concerns with MSPs and asked them to contact all platforms.”

Mike Small, from the pressure group Citizen Network, said COVID-19 had done what governments and the council had failed to in regulating the industry.

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He said: “The virus is forcing the short-term let and AirBnB market to collapse. It is doing what the council and the free market couldn’t, regulate a phenomena that was distorting the whole housing sector.

“What it is also showing us is that there were thousands of hidden unlisted ‘shadow’ properties, operating without planning permission.

“The problem is far far worse than we previously thought. The need for a rent freeze during this crisis is very very clear and very very urgent.”

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