Edinburgh Airbnbs: Short term lets in tenements won't get licence unless 'good reason'

Short-term lets in tenements in Edinburgh won’t be given a licence unless there is a “good reason”, councillors have said.

Under new powers to regulate the sector councillors agreed on Thursday that 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.

The scheme will allow the authority to restrict the number of tenements and shared door properties being used and make sure correct planning permission and safety checks are in place.

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It’s in addition to the city's short-term let control area, which will be introduced on 1 October. Local authorities across Scotland are required to establish short-term lets licensing by Saturday after MSPs voted for a change in the law earlier this year.

Key safes for short-term lets in tenement flat

Under the new system new hosts need to obtain a licence from their local authority before they can operate as a short-term let, while existing hosts have until April 1, 2023 to apply for a licence and can continue operating while their application is assessed.

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Among conditions under the government scheme are putting in place a maximum occupancy level and safety checks being carried out.

It follows pressure from Edinburgh and other councils amid growing concerns that short-term lets have fuelled housing shortages and “hollowed out” communities as permanent homes are converted to holiday flats. Edinburgh lets on Airbnb have doubled to 12,000 since 2016.

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The city council also campaigned for the move to help address concerns about anti-social behaviour.

Councillor Neil Ross, committee convener, explained that the new licensing scheme will give the council “greater control” over the location of short-term lets.

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He said: “I’m pleased that as well as introducing the conditions set by the Scottish Government, we’ve had the flexibility under the new legislation to introduce our own conditions too.

“We’ve campaigned for years for these new powers and today’s decision to implement the new licensing system in the capital is great news for our local communities as well as the visitors who come to Edinburgh each year,” he said.

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“Around a third of all short-term lets are here in Edinburgh and the new licensing scheme will give us greater control over where short-term lets are situated.

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“Issues of safety and anti-social behaviour have been having a detrimental effect on our residents so I’m pleased to see the new scheme will make sure new licence holders meet the right safety requirements and occupancy levels and that they will have obtain the correct planning permission as a condition of their licence.”

“Concerns around the management of secondary letting came up time and again during our consultations and we’ve recognised that in Edinburgh, unless there’s a good reason for an exemption, applicants won’t be given a licence in tenements and shared door properties.”

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It was also agreed by the Regulatory Committee that during periods of high pressure on accommodation in Edinburgh, such as during summer festivals and major sporting events, temporary exemptions can be made for all short-term lets for up to six weeks in any 12 month period.

The plans were described as "restrictive and anti-business" by the Association of Scotland's Self-Caterers, which claims a lack of house building is the driver behind the city’s housing crisis.