Council could seize rowdy party flats

Bruce Borthwick, of Holyrood Mews, called out the police many times in his anti-party flats campaign. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Bruce Borthwick, of Holyrood Mews, called out the police many times in his anti-party flats campaign. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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Control over more than a dozen party flats across ­Edinburgh could be seized by city chiefs in the wake of a ­landmark court ruling.

Edinburgh City Council confirmed it was investigating 13 properties that have been the subject of public complaints over their use as short-stay businesses rented out for events such as stag and hen parties.

Several of the flats are situated in Brandfield Street in Fountainbridge as well as Western Harbour.

Addresses in Featherhall ­Avenue in Corstorphine, ­Lothian Road, and Old ­Tolbooth Wynd and Holyrood Road in the Old Town are also under investigation.

The move comes with the local authority having been granted permission in ­October by Sheriff Kathrine Mackie to take control of two flats on Grove Street.

The decision has effectively made the council the landlord of the Fountainbridge properties. Owner Ian Scott was forced to hand over his keys under the 12-month legal order representing the first court case of its kind in Scotland.

Tormented neighbours had previously complained at being disturbed by rowdy groups of up to 20 revellers every Friday night. And resident Liz Haggard, who has lived in Grove Street for half a century, said of living conditions since the court victory: “There’s been no ­activity of any kind in either of the flats and it is heavenly at the weekend.”

Mr Scott has applied for a ­licence to use one of the flats as a guest house or for bed and breakfast purposes. A decision on the application is yet to be announced.

The council has promised to review overall action taken on short-stay apartments in six months’ time.

Ms Haggard said it was critical that planning officers took enforcement action to stop property magnates snapping up flats in new developments to use for short-stay lets.

She said: “If you live in a building, particularly a flat, which is zoned residential and for which planning permission has been given as residential, then it can’t be used all year round as a full-time, profit-making business in short-stay lets. That doesn’t mean you can’t rent it out – it’s no threat to that.”

Landlords can be fined up to £20,000 if they do not comply with enforcement notices under regulations introduced in ­February.

Retired veterinary surgeon Bruce Borthwick, whose campaign against party flats took him to the Scottish ­Parliament, said more residents were now reporting problem properties.

He said: “The court decision sent a shockwave through that industry. There seems to be a great desire on behalf of the planning committee to tackle this problem.”

City planning convener Ian Perry encouraged residents frustrated by party flats in their neighbourhood to make themsleves known.

He said: “There are five or six tests owners would have to pass now to get permission to run flats like this. It’s using ­planning policy to determine what activities can take place in residential areas.”