Edinburgh City Centre has more Airbnbs than anywhere else in Scotland, Scottish Government report shows

A new report from the Scottish Government has shown the scale and impact of Airbnb on the Capital as calls for regulation and enforcement grow stronger.
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The Scottish Government is set to support a clamp down on short-term flat lets in Edinburgh after a consultation showed the true scale of the problem.

More than 1,000 people, businesses and companies took part in the independent report, alongside a bespoke data ‘scrape’ of Airbnb.

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The results of the consultation add fuel to the calls for regulation of the short-term letting sector including a licencing regime and adequate enforcement to improve safety and reduce the impact on the housing market.

Lock-boxes on West Bow in the centre of Edinburgh.Lock-boxes on West Bow in the centre of Edinburgh.
Lock-boxes on West Bow in the centre of Edinburgh.
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Edinburgh as a whole is home to 31.38 per cent of all of Scotland’s Airbnbs, equivalent to 9,994 short-term lets in total.

Of all of the housing available in the City Centre ward, the data shows that one in six properties are now Airbnbs, with more than 2,710 out of nearly 16,759 houses listed on the short-term letting website.

The centre of Edinburgh has more Airbnbs than any other part of Scotland, a new report has found (Photo: Getty Images)The centre of Edinburgh has more Airbnbs than any other part of Scotland, a new report has found (Photo: Getty Images)
The centre of Edinburgh has more Airbnbs than any other part of Scotland, a new report has found (Photo: Getty Images)

Impact on residents and communities

The report found five major impacts of the short-term let economy in Scotland, with concerns over the impact on residential housing and on residents living close to holiday flats coming to light.

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Evidence was found for a reduced availability of housing including affordability, as well as a wider impact on the local economy and public services.

The report also highlighted a negative impact on the quality of life and well-being of residents, as well as increased tourism and the changing faces of communities as detrimental after-effects.

However, local economic benefits from visitors and increased household income for short-term let hosts were listed as the two main positive impacts.

He said: “Short-term lets can offer people a flexible and cheaper travel option, and have contributed positively to Scotland’s tourism industry and local economies across the country.

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“However, we know that in certain areas, particularly tourist hot spots, high numbers of short-term lets are causing problems and often making it harder for people to find homes to live in.

“The responses to our consultation confirm support for new controls over short-term letting of residential properties in these problem areas.

“We will carefully consider the evidence before setting out our proposals later this year. In the meantime we will continue to work with local authorities to support them to balance the unique needs of their communities with wider economic and tourism interests.”

An Airbnb spokesman said: "Airbnb is built on the principles of making communities stronger and spreading tourism benefits to local families and businesses.

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"While guests using Airbnb account for just 3% of visitors to Scotland, our community boosted the Scottish economy by over £693 million last year alone, generating new sustainable revenue streams that - unlike other forms of tourism - stay with the communities where guests stay.

“We want to be good partners to Scotland, which is why we recently announced backing for a simple, free and online registration system in communities that need it, extending planning requirements to professional lets hosting over 140 nights per year, and support for a tourism levy for communities that want it.

"Airbnb has long led the way on supporting home sharing rules in Scotland and we want to continue that collaboration, based on our experience of working with more than 500 governments across the world."