Edinburgh MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton defends renting out cabin in his garden on Airbnb

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Edinburgh Western MSP and Scottish Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton has defended renting out a shed in his back garden as Airbnb accommodation for £216 a night during the Festival.

The shed is described in the Airbnb listing as a “cosy self-contained cabin.... utterly private, beautifully built, warm and welcoming”. It costs £151 a night to rent it in July but in August the price goes up to £216 a night.

Alex Cole-HamiltonAlex Cole-Hamilton
Alex Cole-Hamilton

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Tenants group Living Rent was quoted by a Sunday newspaper saying it was "beyond belief" that Mr Cole-Hamilton was letting out the shed at such a high price at a time of a housing emergency.    The number of short-term lets in Edinburgh is seen as a contributory factor in the city's housing shortage with flats which could provide homes instead being advertised as holiday accommodation on Airbnb and similar sites.

But Mr Cole-Hamilton said the cabin was effectively an en-suite bedroom in his garden. He said: "It's just not suitable for a long-term tenancy. It's not a property that could be repurposed to put a family in.”

The cabin was used for nine months by a Ukrainian refugee, who has now moved on to a flat in Edinburgh, but she had to use the kitchen in the house while she stayed there.

He said the cabin had been assessed by the city council as being "homeshare" - equivalent to someone letting out a room in their house - rather than a "secondary let", where a whole flat or house is rented out. It was fully licensed and he paid all the taxes due.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Mr Cole-Hamiton has had the cabin for eight years and he said it had always been recorded in the MSPs' register of interests.  The register says the cabin will bring in a gross annual income of between £5,0001 and £10,000.

Lib Dems have backed powers for local authorities to control the spread of Airbnb-style accommodation. Mr Cole-Hamilton said: "i was one of the original signatories to the cross-party letter calling for the regulation of the sector and we have been clear it is a sector that does need to be regulated."

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.