Edinburgh campaigners call for Scottish Government action after Airbnb report but warn damage could take 'decades' to repair

The report has been welcomed by campaigners but they added now is the time for the Scottish Government to push through legislation.

Wednesday, 30th October 2019, 11:45 am

A campaign group calling for a reduction in the number of Airbnbs and short-term lets has called on the Scottish Government to act quickly to reduce the damage the industry is causing Edinburgh.

PLACE Edinburgh said Airbnb has been a "very bad neighbour" to the Capital and said the damage from short-term lets could take decades to reverse.

Conservative councillor for the City Centre ward Jo Mowat added that action must be taken "sooner rather than later" on short-term lets.

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Conservative councillor Jo Mowat (Photo: Jo Mowat)

On Monday, a Scottish Government report and consultation set out the impact of short-term lets on Edinburgh and Scotland, with revelations including that one in six properties in the City Centre ward are used as Airbnbs.

The report also laid out negative impacts on housing, communities and the well-being of residents. Ministers have said they will continue to look at introducing statutory regulation to the industry, while Airbnb said the want to be "good partners" to Scotland.

The web giant is backing a simple, free and online registration system, changes to planning law to include short-term lets of up to 140 days a year, and support for a tourism tax.

A spokesman for campaign group PLACE Edinburgh said the research backs up resident concerns about the platform and said it could take decades for the damage to be undone.

Campaigners have welcomed the Scottish Government's report into short-term lets (Photo: Shutterstock)

She said: "This excellent research confirms what we already know; Airbnb has been a very bad neighbour to Edinburgh.

"The impacts on housing affordability and availability are well documented but we are grateful to finally see recognition of how unlawful lets are negatively affecting the quality of life and health and well-being of those living in close proximity.

"The impact of profit-motivated entire-property commercial short-term lets have had an impact on our communities that will take years, perhaps decades to reverse. We hope the Scottish Government recognise the threat these properties pose for residents’ ability to continue to live in Scotland’s capital city.

"We continue to wait for the Scottish Government to meet its obligations in protecting residents’ rights to a peaceful, safe and affordable home"

Cllr Jo Mowat, whose City Centre ward includes the densest square kilometre of Airbnbs than anywhere else in Scotland with 812 listings, said action from the Scottish Government must happen "sooner rather than later".

She added: "There are no surprises for any of us who have been dealing with it for a long time.

"I welcome that we have this report and that the Scottish Government have gone out an consulted. In the top 10 wards across Scotland they are all struggling from reduced accommodation and are all pressured for types of housing and that has been a growing pattern over the 12 years I have been on the council.

"It is taking housing stock away from traditional lets. I have been calling for regulation for a long time so I am pleased that the report gives that call an evidence base.

"I wish it could all move quicker. We lose people an we lose the memories of the city. We still need that legislation sooner rather than later because we need to be able to manage it."