Edinburgh City Council welcomes Airbnb’s permanent ban on parties and events

Edinburgh City Council has welcomed Airbnb’s decision to permanently ban parties and events at homes listed on its website – saying noise and anti-social behaviour from short-term lets has been a huge issue in the Capital.

The US-based accommodation-sharing company said the decision follows a temporary ban introduced in August 2020 when some people took “partying behaviour to rented homes” due to bars and nightclubs being closed or restricted due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It has recorded a 44% year-on-year drop in complaints about parties since then, and received “positive feedback from community leaders and elected officials”.

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In Edinburgh city centre, an 80-year-old woman was shocked when a naked couple ran into her tenement flat and started having sex in the living room before realising they had got the wrong door. A nearby shjort-term let property was being used by a sex club.

Keylocks are a familiar site across Edinburgh, which critics say has been blighted by Airbnb short-term lets

In 2020, it emerged that just one in nearly 500 short term property lets in Edinburgh has proper planning permission, according to a report describing the 'staggering pattern of unlawful activity' of holiday flat rentals across the city.

And last month, it was reported that Edinburgh City Council has been inundated with over 130 applications for short-term lets since the start of April – sparking fears that the city’s planning department is not fully equipped to handle the influx of requests.

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Edinburgh Airbnb owner told to ‘cancel bookings’ after noise complaints

Commenting on the news of the ban, Council Leader Cammy Day said: “Any policy from short term let platforms trying to limit noise and anti-social behaviour experienced in local communities is welcome as this has been a huge issue in Edinburgh.

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“We also have major concerns with short term lets taking residential properties out of the city’s housing supply pushing up rents and house prices and so we’ve been calling for new legislation to give us greater control of them.

“We’ve been successful in this and earlier this year we asked the Scottish Government if Edinburgh can be a short term let control area following legislation they passed last year. If they agree this would mean residential property owners wholly letting a property as an STL, which is not their principal home, would need to apply for planning permission for a ‘change of use’.

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“We’ll also be introducing a licensing scheme for short term lets in October which will tackle many issues including noise and anti-social behaviour and the details of how this will operate in Edinburgh will be considered by committee in the coming months.

“We’re disappointed though that the legislation does not include a cap on the number of short term lets to be given a licence, which is what we asked for.”

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Airbnb said there are “serious consequences” for guests who breach the party ban, varying from the suspension of their account to being permanently removed from the platform.

Around 6,600 people’s accounts were suspended last year for “attempting to violate our party ban”.

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A 16-person occupancy cap for Airbnb listings introduced as part of the August 2020 ban has been lifted to allow listings for accommodation that can “comfortably” hold more than that number of people.

The company said in a statement: “From castles in Europe, to vineyards in the US, to large beachfront villas in the Caribbean, amazing properties like these thrive on hosting multi-generational family trips and larger groups, and removing this cap is meant to allow those hosts to responsibly utilise the space in their homes while still complying with our ban on disruptive parties.”