Edinburgh Airbnb: 'It's a disgrace' Edinburgh Dad hits out at ‘nightmare’ short-term lets flat in city tenement building

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An Edinburgh dad has hit out at his neighbour’s ‘nightmare’ Airbnb flat in a city centre tenement, claiming it makes life ‘a misery’ for him and his son.

Gary Dickson said screaming, banging and frequent disruption from upstairs cause “constant chaos and worry” that is so bad it has driven him and his son out of their home to get a night’s sleep. It comes as the landlord of the ‘nightmare' flat has submitted an application to the council for planning permission to change use to a short-term let, after having already rented out the property on Airbnb on and off for eight years.

Mr Dickson claims his mum, who previously lived in the flat until she passed away in 2018, was ‘worn down’ by the disturbance but the pensioner was too scared to complain.

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Now the 55-year-old has said ‘enough is enough’ after he was told the history of the property and a ‘catalogue of complaints’ might not be taken into account when the application is considered. A council investigation in 2019 determined the property had been used as a commercial, short-term let in breach of rules. However, due to a ban on short-term lets during the pandemic the council didn't have resources to pursue it. The case was closed.

Gary Dickson said the Airbnb rented flat upstairs making his life 'a misery'Gary Dickson said the Airbnb rented flat upstairs making his life 'a misery'
Gary Dickson said the Airbnb rented flat upstairs making his life 'a misery'

When lockdown measures eased, the property returned to short term lets and once again the nightmare resumed, Mr Dickson said. Complaints sparked a second investigation – but that was halted after the landlord moved in long-term tenants, he said.

Since moving into the flat on St Patrick Street three years ago with his son Matthew, 16, Mr Dickson had periods of brief respite. Since the long-term tenants moved out last month, two weeks before an application was lodged for change of use back to short-term lets, Mr Dickson fears their ‘nightmare’ will never end. He is appealing to planning officers to reject the application.

He said: “Me and my son both suffer constantly from disturbances day and night. But the landlord ignores all concerns. The constant change of guests over the years has been unbearable, people hauling bags up the stairs at 2am, 3am. We’ve called the landlord about it and spoken in person but they’ve acted like they are not aware of the problems.

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"It’s so stressful, like living in a crate. It’s a worry for security too. The door gets left open, I’ve seen alcohol and syringes lying on their landing. I’ve told the council but that has been a waste of time, a total farce.”

On top of the noise disruption, leaks from the property directly above have also flooded his bathroom numerous times leaving the ceiling cracked and damaged. After the incidents he alleges the landlord left emergency repairs to be completed by the council.

Mr Dickson added: “Mum had already suffered a barrage of harassment before she passed away. Her life was hell. She was worn down. People screaming, banging and floods from the upstairs flat ruined her home. She hardly got a full night’s sleep. One night she woke with water pouring on her head from an upstairs lead. The next day mum had a soaking bed, the ceiling hanging down and the landlord just said, oh the council will fix it.”

The landlord states in the application for use as short term let "between 2015 and 2020 I did some short term lets prior to the pandemic". But according to Mr Dickson and other tenants in the building, there have been ‘literally hundreds’ as it’s frequently occupied and guests typically stay only a few nights. There are a total of 89 property reviews on the property listing on Airbnb dating back to 2017.

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Councillors agreed to bring in strict new rules last week, which they said will mean applicants will not be given a licence for short-term lets in tenements or for shared door properties unless there is a “good reason” for an exemption.

But Mr Dickson fears the landlord could bypass the rules. He added: "There have been hundreds of guests over the years. It’s shocking that these landlords seem to be allowed free reign. Here we have a landlord whose property creates constant chaos and damage while she collects thousands of pounds a month in rent after leaving an old woman to deal with the fallout and mess. And the council to pay the repairs bill. It’s a joke. The property has evaded enforcement of the rules before, I hope it isn’t allowed to happen again.”

Local councillor Simita Kumar has emailed council officers raising concerns. Councillor Kumar has asked for a briefing and discussion before a decision is made given the complaints about the property.

The landlord and city council have been contacted for comment.

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