Edinburgh housing: Furious resident shares photo showing short-term lets 'eating up entire blocks' in city centre

The block in the Old Town has a notice of planning for short-term lets for all eight flats.
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A furious Edinburgh resident has hit out at airbnb style accommodation which he said is ‘eating up entire blocks’ in the city centre, after spotting one stair where planning notices had been put up for all the flats.

Andrew Brough shared a photo of one block of flats on the Royal Mile with eight notices of application, one for every flat in the building. Mr Brough said it sums up the ‘desperate’ situation in the area and argues it has become ‘unsuitable’ for locals to live there.

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Local resident Mr Brough shared the photo and tweeted: “Just one stair needing #stl planning in Edinburgh. That’s 8 in one stair well. Locals don’t count Airbnb profiteering does.”

Photo by Andrew BroughPhoto by Andrew Brough
Photo by Andrew Brough

The former chair of Tollcross community council told the Evening News: “Airbnb used to be just rooms in houses when people still lived in the property and I don’t have a problem with that. But when it’s eating up entire blocks of flats then it’s a huge issue. Areas of the city have become unsuitable for people to live in as a result. The photo of one block with notices for planning and licenses to me sums up the desperate situation. The sheer volume of short-term lets takes too many properties out of stock and rents go up. I am a long-term renter and I know I would find it impossible to get a place now. I think people have been pushed too far. They are fed up and just going for the nuclear option now. That’s why there’s tools online helping people to object to short-term let applications. I hope they enforce these rules. Things need to change in favour of the residents.”

One city centre councillor said many doorways and lampposts are ‘covered’ with license and planning notices, which he branded a ‘shockingly stark visual reminder’ of the impact of short-term lets on local communities.

It comes as thousands of applications have been submitted for licenses under new regulations for short-term accommodation, which affects Airbnb-style properties, guest houses and B&B owners. From Sunday, 1 October it’s now a criminal offence for lets to operate without a license.

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The new rules are part of a wider crackdown following concerns that the proliferation of airbnb sytle lets has reduced homes available for people to live in and leads to disruption for communities.

Following a slew of last-minute applications for licences in the days leading up to the deadline on Sunday, 1 October, the council is now facing calls to strictly enforce the controversial scheme.

It comes after repeated calls from the sector to postpone the deadline for the scheme has prompted a backlash from residents, groups and local councillors.

Locals on a board on reddit have urged the 300 members to collectively object to every application in the city. Tenant union Living Rent has also created a tool which allows locals to put in their postcode and view applications for licenses in their area. A letter has been shared urging locals to submit objections to all applications.

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The Association of Scotland's Self-Caterers (ASSC) warned of a serious loss of tourism capacity under the scheme. But according to the latest figures from the council on Monday 3000 applications for licenses were submitted by the deadline.

City centre councillor Finlay McFarlane said: “Walking around the city centre you could be forgiven for assuming that the festival was back. Doorways and lampposts are covered once again but this time with license and planning notices which really provides a shockingly stark visual reminder as to the impact that short-term letting has had on these historic residential communities.”

“Alongside the residents I represent, I will be watching the implementation and enforcement of the scheme with great interest. I have already heard of cases where the trundling of suitcases has been replaced with long term tenants to the great delight of residents who for the last decade or so have clung on as the last permanent occupant of their stair.”

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