Edinburgh residents invited to have their say on plans to crack down on Airbnb-style lets

A public consultation has been launched on plans to declare the whole of Edinburgh a short-term let control area under new legislation giving news powers to crack down on Airbnb-style accommodation.

Friday, 3rd September 2021, 12:30 pm
Updated Friday, 3rd September 2021, 12:35 pm

Let us know what you think and join the conversation at the bottom of this article.

About one-third of all short-term lets in Scotland are in Edinburgh and there have long been concerns over the impact on local communities, especially around the city centre.

If the control area goes ahead, all residential properties, which are not an owner’s principal home, being used as short-term lets in their totality would require planning permission for change of use.

The whole of Edinburgh could become a short-term let control area

The consultation runs for nine weeks until November 5.

People who rent out rooms in their house or let their property while they are on holiday would not generally be affected by the new rules.

Edinburgh led the way in pressing for new powers to allow councils to manage high concentrations of short-term letting where it affects the availability of residential housing or the character of a neighbourhood.

And the Scottish Government is currently consulting on legislation for a new licensing regime, which the council also called for, to address the issues of safety, anti-social behaviour and noise.

Planning convener Neil Gardiner said: “We’ve worked hard calling for greater controls for short term lets and so it’s great we’re now asking for views on the whole city becoming a control area.

“Edinburgh has almost a third of all STLs in Scotland and so we need to take action. They’re putting pressure on house prices and rents and taking houses out of supply as well as causing issues such as anti-social behaviour and the hollowing out of communities.”

The council said in the period 2016-2019 there had been a substantial rise in the number of both entire properties and rooms in Edinburgh registered with Airbnb, leading to 31 per cent of all Airbnb listings in Scotland being in the Capital. The next greatest proportion was 19 per cent in Highland region.

But Fiona Campbell, chief executive of the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers, said the proposals to make the whole city a control area were “wholly disproportionate”.

And she claimed there was no “empirical evidence base” for the argument that short-term lets had reduced the housing stock.

“Furthermore, their proposals appear to rely on pre-pandemic listings from one online platform only and this does not provide an accurate reflection of the situation.

“Self-catering properties have been a longstanding presence in the Capital for decades, enhancing the tourist offering and boosting the local economy, and should not be used as a convenient scapegoat for policy failures elsewhere.

"Communities are being hoodwinked into believing that regulating short-term lets out of existence will act as a panacea when in reality, we have failed to build enough affordable homes or bring large numbers of empty properties back into use.

“Self-catering generates £70m for Edinburgh’s economy. For a city that is renowned for its hospitality, it is very disappointing that local policymakers are looking to solve multifaceted housing challenges in Edinburgh by concentrating on tourist accommodation and damaging small businesses in the process.”

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Airbnb say Edinburgh crackdown on short-term lets will have little effect

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