Two Edinburgh Airbnbs told to stop operating as holiday lets by council
Two Capital flats properties including one owned by a chef based in Switzerland have been served enforcement notices by the council forcing them to stop operating as short-term lets.
The notices come as several cases await the outcome of appeals from the Scottish Government’s planning reporter as the city continues to battle the rise of short-term let properties.
One of the properties is owned by a woman who works in Switzerland as a way to cover her living costs while abroad and run by a Airbnb management company 24/7.
Both notices have been appealed by the property owners.
Planning convener Neil Gardiner said the council is pushing the government to give them the powers to introduce a licensing regime for short-term lets in the Capital.
An Evening News investigation in August found that there could be as many as 7,000 Airbnb properties operating illegally due to a lack of enforcement caused by stretched council resources.
However, the government’s planning reporter has consistently backed the enforcement notices imposed by the council.
Both properties issued with the notices, at 33 Milton Street and 9 Castle Wynd South were found to be advertised on Airbnb and Booking.com, and BnbBuddy respectively, and were described as being “solely used for short stay commercial visitor accommodation”.
The council add: “The resultant effect of a high level of turnover and the ability to access communal areas of the building is causing disturbance to the established residential character of the building.
“This disturbance is also accentuated by the disproportionately large number of people that the unit can accommodate relative to its size. The above represents a material change of use and therefore a breach of planning control has occurred.”
In a letter on behalf of Katie Ogilvy-Wedderburn, a chef in Verbier, Switzerland who owns the Castle Wynd property, her solicitors state: "[Ms Ogilvy-Wedderburn] has marketed this property for short term residential letting since December 2018 in order to cover her costs when working out of the country in Switzerland.
"This allows her the flexibility to reside in the property when work commitments permit."
Both properties were told to stop operating as short-term lets on 22 September however both enforcement notices have been appealed by the homeowners to the Scottish Government's Planning and Environment Appeals Division.
Campaign group PLACE Edinburgh, a grassroots organisation highlighting the impact of short-term lets, called on residents to report problems to the council.
On Twitter, the group said: “You don’t have to put up with these unlawful businesses destroying your peace, safety and feeling of community. Report problems to the council.”
Cllr Neil Gardiner, Planning Convener, said: “As a Council we have made our position clear that we need a licensing regime to regulate short term lets and welcomed the Scottish Government’s recent consultation on this issue.
“Our priority is that residential accommodation should meet the needs of Edinburgh households. When we receive complaints due to residential properties being used for short term non-residential commercial letting we will carry out a planning enforcement investigation. This can be time-consuming but we have had a significant number of enforcement notices upheld by Reporters on appeal.”
The Scottish Government recently shut a consultation into short term lets and their impact, with legislation being called for by MSPs, councils and campaign groups to help control a booming and continuously growing industry.