Airbnbs in shared stairwells still banned, says Scottish Government
Airbnbs in tenements across Scotland will continue to be forced to stay shut after the Scottish Government clarified its guidance around self-catered accommodation.
Concerns around the potential spread of Covid-19 via shared stairwells in tenements where people were operating short-term lets had been raised by campaign groups and by Green MSP Andy Wightman at First Minister’s Questions last week.
The news of the continued ban comes on the same day self-contained self-catered accommodation is allowed to reopen for business, alongside the lifting of the five mile travel restriction across the majority of the country.
The new guidance specifies that properties accessible only via a common entrance must stay closed, with a risk of a fixed penalty notice and police action if they are found to be operating.
The guidance states: “Most self-contained holiday accommodation, including fully self-catering accommodation, holiday homes/second homes and caravan and campervan parks can open from 3 July on the condition that the only accommodation provided/allowed are fully self-contained units with no shared facilities between households.
“For the avoidance of doubt shared facilities include entrance hallways, stairs and landings. Properties that are accessed via a common entrance cannot therefore reopen at this point.”
Andy Wightman welcomed the news and added that it was “vital” the guidance remained under active review.
The Lothian MSP said: “I welcome the clarification in guidance and law that short-term lets in shared stairs cannot open for business today. It is vital that this position is kept under active review in relation to wider tourism opening up on 15 July.
“If the restriction is to be lifted then it is important that residents are provided with clear public health reasons why it is safe to do so.”
PLACEEdinburgh, a grassroots campaign group against the proliferation of short-term lets in Edinburgh, said it was “delighted” by the news and called for short-term lets to stay closed for “the forseeable future”.
A spokesman for the group said: “PLACE is delighted that residents living in tenements will be protected from the increased infection risks of these non-essential, high turnover holiday let businesses. We hope that the industry will be responsible and advertise these legal obligations to their members.
“We are particularly concerned about more at risk groups, such as disabled residents who are continuing to shield or self isolate to protect their health.
“The most at risk residents need to feel safe to visit their own garden and be able to get help from neighbours without any additional risks in their shared building. They are already under enormous stress in lockdown, adding more concerns to their mental health, due to the addition of holiday let customers, is not appropriate or fair. It is a public health issue.
“In other cities like The Hague and Amsterdam, the holiday lets in residential properties are banned until next year. As we have no way of knowing when further spikes in infection will come, we ask that these businesses remain closed for the foreseeable future and that only those that are able to obtain planning authorisation are allowed to reopen, if risk assessed as safe to do so.”
Chief executive of the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers, Fiona Campbell said public health is of “paramount importance” for the industry.
She said: “Scotland’s self-caterers welcome these guidelines as an important part of getting our £723million sector back to work.
“We believe that these measures are appropriate and will help keep our operators, guests, and everyone else involved safe as the COVID-19 restrictions are eased.
“Public health is, of course, of paramount importance and these guidelines, if combined with an increased focus on community awareness and responsibility, will help protect us all.”