Edinburgh short-term lets: Groups from Cockburn Association to Living Rent issue joint plea to reject delay
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Edinburgh organisations from the Cockburn Association to Living Rent have come together in a plea to the Scottish Government to stick to the current timetable for the introduction of licensing for short-term lets.
In a statement, the groups – which also include New Town & Broughton Community Council, Old Town Association and Grassmarket Residents’ Association – say it is the settled will of the Scottish Parliament and the city council that short-term lets must be regulated. And they saud: “The failure of STL operators in the Edinburgh to make suitable planning and licensing applications rests with them.”
Bodies representing B&Bs and self-catering operators have called for the deadline of October 1 to be extended after figures showed licence applications had been submitted for only a fraction of current short-term let properties. Only around 240 of an estimated 12,000 short-term lets in Edinburgh have so far registered. Airbnb hosts and other self-catering providers in the city have claimed the scheme will drive thousands of businesses out of the sector and harm tourism.
A group of nearly 40 cross-party MSPs has written to First Minister Humza Yousaf, urging him to pause short-term let licensing. Their letter said: “This flawed legislation is the legacy of a previous administration, so you have every right to pause it until a workable solution can be found. We are not asking you to scrap the principles, instead we are asking for your help to protect countless Scottish businesses - and the people and families that depend on them – from entirely avoidable hardship.”
One signatory, former Tourism Secretary Fergus Ewing, claimed in a BBC radio interview that the current regulations would “decimate the short term lets sector”. He said: “It will mean that the cost of hotel rooms will go up even more to more expensive levels, with the result that family holidays will become something that only well-off folk can afford in Scotland and it will drive more people on less well-off incomes to holiday abroad.”
But the Edinburgh organisations backing the licensing system said local community, housing and amenity organisations all supported the regulations. They said: “Operators of STLs, whether they be individuals or large letting agencies, seldom think about the impact their businesses have on neighbours and even fewer might engage with them, in say a common stair, before they operate.“We ask that the council and Scottish Government give little weight to the pressures posed by a well-funded industry lobby group. Local communities have been placed under huge pressures by the untrammelled expansion of STLs across the city. It is time to restore some balance and ensure that Edinburgh remains a place for people to live.”
Council leader Cammy Day appeared to support a pause in comments in a radio interview, but First Minister Humza Yousaf has so far ruled out any further delay to the deadline, which has already been extended by six months.