New crowd-sourced Airbnb tracker announced for Edinburgh by Green MSP

The Evening News can exclusively reveal the new tool which aims to understand the scale of the growth of short-term lets

Thursday, 23rd January 2020, 6:00 am
Andy Wightman MSP has announced the new tool to track short-term lets (Photo: TSPL)

A brand new crowd-sourced tool which has been designed to track the growth of short-term lets in Edinburgh has been announced by a leading MSP, the Evening News can exclusively reveal.

Green MSP for the Lothians, Andy Wightman, said the new tool would help understand the scale of the growth in short-term lets (STLs) on sites such as Airbnb and Booking.com which he said was “out of control”.

The homesfirst.scot website will allow Capital residents to anonymously report an STL in their tenement or street, and aims to build a fuller picture of the true number of STLs across the city.

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The new website which is already live (Photo: homesfirst.scot)

It comes only a fortnight after the Scottish Government announced plans for a new licencing regime for STLs in Scotland where councils will be given the power to enforce stricter policies on how many and where STLs are allowed to be in their area.

'Growth of short-term lets is out of control'

Residents will be able to list the address and other details of the STL on the website which will be then used to create an interactive map showing the location of known STLs.

The launch of the Homes First campaign comes after years of campaigning by Mr Wightman on the issue of STLs and housing.

He has called for greater regulation of the sector in the past and is one of the most vociferous critics of the growth of STLs in Edinburgh.

Mr Wightman said: “The growth in short-term lets is out of control in Edinburgh and of increasing concern across Scotland.

“The Scottish Government’s movement towards licencing is welcome but we still don’t have a clear picture of how many former homes have been given over to commercial purpose, and where they are concentrated.

“This tool will help us better understand the scale of the problem.”

Licencing laws in the pipeline

New licencing laws set to be introduced by the Scottish Government in the next couple of years will see mandatory safety requirements on licences.

They will also be given the opportunity to impose additional conditions as well as charging a fee for the administration of the licence.

Future plans could also see ‘control zones’ for Airbnbs and other types of short-term lets.

Edinburgh’s city centre ward has the densest concentration of Airbnbs in Scotland with more than one in six properties let out on the platform, while the Leith and Leith Walk wards both sit in the top ten.