Edinburgh Airbnbs: MSP calls for short term lets new licensing system to be delayed

The new licensing system for Airbnb-style accommodation should be postponed to allow the sector to recover from Covid and the cost-of-living crisis, a Lothian Tory MSP will tell the Scottish Parliament today (September 21).

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New legislation in Scotland means that, from October 1, new hosts must obtain a licence from their local authority before they can operate as a short-term let, while existing hosts have until April 1, 2023 to apply for a licence and can continue operating while their application is being determined.

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But Miles Briggs, who has secured a topical question in the chamber this afternoon, asking the Scottish Government what analysis it has carried out on the implementation and potential impact of the short-term lets legislation, says it should be delayed.

He said: “This legislation is being rushed through local authorities, which will lead to unintended consequences and small businesses suffering as a result.

“The short-terms lets industry contributes hundreds of millions of pounds to the Scottish economy and changes to the legislation are going to put the survival of many small businesses at risk, especially as many are still recovering from the pandemic.

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“I am calling on the Scottish Government to delay the implementation of short-term lets legislation, until the industry has had the chance to properly recover and while the cost of living crisis is being resolved, especially as we go into winter.

“We are seeing local authorities taking a different approach to the implementation of short term lets legislation, making it very difficult for small businesses to navigate.”

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New licensing requirements for short-term lets are due to come into effect from October 1.

The legislation was introduced after pressure from Edinburgh and other councils amid concern that short-term lets have fuelled housing shortages and “hollowed out” communities as permanent homes are converted to holiday flats. Edinburgh lets on Airbnb have doubled to 12,000 since 2016.

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But trade body the Association of Scotland's Self-Caterers (ASSC) says short-term lets are an important part of the tourism industry and claim there is no empirical data showing a link between short-term lets and the housing market.

It says the sector is struggling because of the cost of living crisis and is calling for the start of the new licensing scheme to be delayed until October 2026.

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"New bookings have dropped off a cliff. Cancellations are still causing significant disruption, from people presenting with Covid-19 symptoms and now concern over domestic finances.”

They say legislation was delayed during the pandemic and claim the situation now facing the sector is “arguably worse”.

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