Neighbour’s gripe with Airbnb flat owner ‘5000 miles away’ from Edinburgh sparks probe

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A neighbour to a flat rented out as an Airbnb by an owner who lives 5000 miles away in California has revealed how she was forced to contact the council as a “last resort”.

Nicola Golden is hoping to raise £112,000 to continue her fight against an enforcement notice issued by the city council stopping her from running her one-bed flat on Chancelot Terrace as a short term let.

It is said Ms Golden was in breach of planning control for letting the top-floor flat without first seeking planning permission. It came about after a complaint was received by the council regarding “noise and nuisance during antisocial hours”. The complainant, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Evening News: “I have tried to be entirely reasonable with her. The property is not, as the owner has suggested, rented out to family and friends and occasional guests. It is a commercial operation, available 365 days a year.

READ MORE: Woman to raise cash to fight Airbnb ban

“Groups of guests arrive and leave every few days at all hours of the day and night. The owner is in California for all but a few weeks of the year, and as the letting agent utilises the key box, there is no one appropriately managing the guests. There are new guests every few days. We have had strangers attempt to get into our property and noise disturbance regularly during anti-social hours. In addition, our title deeds state that our properties in the stairwell are residential in nature and must not be used for any commercial purpose or other purpose which may be deemed a nuisance.”

An appeal to the Scottish Government also proved unsuccessful in May, with Ms Golden revealing she rented the property out for short-term usage for 36.7 per cent of the year advertising on Airbnb and her own website. Ms Golden lived in the flat for three years until 1999 before renting it as a long-term let until 2017, when she began advertising the property as an Airbnb.

The Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers has backed Ms Golden’s case, citing a lack of clarity within Edinburgh City Council’s planning policy.

Andy Wightman, a Green MSP, has admitted he is “surprised” to see the industry body back Ms Golden’s legal challenge. He has proposed amendments to the Planning Bill so owners would have to apply for full planning consent to change any property from a residence to a short-term let.

He added: “There has been a recent and rapid proliferation of homes being converted to short-term lets with the majority having no planning permission, no safety regulations and no regard to families living in close proximity to them.

“It is clear that this legal case is designed to overturn the existing planning framework.”