City to lobby for cap on Airbnb properties

The Capital is to be a 'special case' for short lets. Pic: TSPL
The Capital is to be a 'special case' for short lets. Pic: TSPL
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The city council will lobby the Scottish Government for a “licensing regime” to potentially cap the number of Airbnb properties in Edinburgh.

Edinburgh is set to be treated differently than the rest of Scotland, with pilot measures touted to tackle concerns over “antisocial behaviour and the loss of community” caused by an influx of short term letting in the Capital.

A Scottish Government panel suggested “exploring a seasonal system in central Edinburgh” and “experimenting with a number of measures”, including a community code of conduct.

Holyrood said it would “work closely with the City of Edinburgh Council and will consider any proposals that they may have to pilot solutions”.

The council welcomed the Scottish Government’s stance.

Housing and economy 
convener, Cllr Kate Campbell, said: “The Scottish Government response was extremely positive and we are over the moon and very much looking forward to working constructively with them.

“They have recognised that Edinburgh is impacted in particular by short-term lets and will look at having some sort of pilot measures in the city.”

She added: “We would be very keen to be have a licensing regime to be able to properly regulate short-term lets.

“We are not concerned about people letting out a room during the festival period, but what we are worried about is the impact on our housing supply.

“We would like a licensing regime to give us a threshold number of days people can use properties for short-term letting in a year and possibly control the overall number of properties in the city being used.”

Airbnb has been lobbying the Scottish Government to introduce a 90-day limit for short-term letting in the city centre, excluding the busy summer and festive periods.

A spokeswoman for Airbnb said: “We want to be regulated in Edinburgh and that’s why we have put forward proposals to ensure home sharing grows responsibly and sustainably.

“We will continue to work together with the Scottish Government and encourage them to introduce clear and simple home sharing rules.”

Lothians MSP Andy Wightman hit out at the Scottish Government’s lack of clarity and called on the city council to be handed more powers. He said: “The problem in Edinburgh is commercial letting of property that is no-one’s home and to tackle this involves straightforward changes to planning and licensing law ... there is a modern-day clearance taking place in the centre of Edinburgh.”

Rules for short-term let 
properties requiring permission are vague. Each has to be decided on a case-by-case basis and can lead to complicated and resource-heavy enforcement by council officers.

Jamie Hepburn, minister for business, fair work and skills, said: “We will continue working with the council to ensure the right balance is struck between adequate accommodation for visitors and the risk of losing permanent housing”