'Party flat' ban for Edinburgh Airbnb property owner

A LANDLORD has been ordered to stop using Airbnb to let out his Edinburgh flats to tourists.

Wednesday, 14th August 2019, 3:35 pm
Haymarket Terrace

Ryan O'Rorke used the popular site to allow two apartments in the capital to be rented out for short stay trips by up to 14 adults.

But complaints were made to council bosses who ordered him to stop using the tenements on Haymarket Terrace for guests.

City of Edinburgh Council said using Airbnb to allow people to stay breached planning rules and should be halted.

They added: "The use of the dwelling for short stay commercial visitor accommodation enables new individuals to arrive and stay at the premises for a short period of time on a regular basis throughout the year in a manner dissimilar to that of a permanent resident.

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"This regular turnover of visitors, combined with guests having access to areas of communal provision including a shared landing and staircase, is having a detrimental impact on neighbouring residential amenity."

Mr O'Rorke appealed to the Scottish Government in a bid to keep the business going.

A letter on his behalf said: "This statement of appeal and the accompanying evidence establish that no material change of use has occurred and therefore there is no breach of planning control.

"For the reasons set out above, the specified use of the property does not represent a material change of use from a residential flat, taking account of all relevant matters.

"There is no material change in the residential character of the property or surrounding area."

However reporter Don Rankin agreed with the council decision and said the business should stop within a month.

He said: "The frequent movement by tourists and other itinerant residents of baggage along the landings and stairwell as well as the necessity for daily servicing of the apartment all lead to a pattern of intense usage of the access stairs and communal areas beyond that which may otherwise be expected from an apartment of this size.

"This in my view creates the potential for unacceptable noise and disturbance to existing residents."

He added: "I also have regard to the appellant’s assertion that there have been no complaints about noise and disturbance, as well as the council’s receipt of only one complaint from a member of the public.

"Notwithstanding I consider that the pattern of use resulting from the short term Airbnb letting, the intensity of use and the unusually high level of coming and going both of customers and from the daily servicing of the apartment are all to such a degree that they result, or have the potential to result, in a marked deterioration of the amenity of other residents.

"I conclude therefore that the enforcement notice should be upheld and leave the one-month period for compliance unchanged."

One in 10 properties in Edinburgh city centre are listed on Airbnb, a report claimed last week.

The number of properties listed on the service has doubled to 12,000 since 2016 with concerns that a lack of regulation is exacerbating the housing crisis in the Scottish capital.

A report published last month by tenants’ union Living Rent found that landlords are abusing holiday let contracts to evade their responsibilities to tenants, some of whom are staying in their properties for up to 10 months or more.

A Scottish Government consultation on the regulation of short-term lets closed last month.

Airbnb has amassed millions of rooms worldwide but has also found itself entangled in disputes with authorities from Tokyo to Berlin to San Francisco.