Edinburgh property which owner said was now a student flat is still being advertised as short-term let for 23 people

A CITY flat first reported for operating as an Airbnb in 2014 was only served with an enforcement order last year - and now the council has closed the case despite the property still being advertised as a short-term let for up to 23 people.

Tuesday, 20th October 2020, 12:30 pm
One of the bedrooms in the property

Former Edinburgh Central MSP Marco Biagi, who took up the complaints from residents at the time, said he was "stunned" to receive a letter from the council about the property at Tollcross almost six years after he highlighted the problem.

The council gathered evidence confirming the five-bedroom second-floor flat in Lauriston Park was being used as short-stay commercial visitor accommodation, causing noise and disturbance to neighbours. It was being advertised on letting website Airbnb for up to 25 occupants.

An enforcement notice was served in February 2019, requiring the owner to stop using the premises as a short-term let within a month from March 13.

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But last week the council wrote to Mr Biagi saying: "It has been determined that no further action now needs to be taken in respect of the matter."

A council report said: "The owner has confirmed in writing that the property is currently being let to students. The property is no longer being used as short stay commercial visitor accommodation. The planning enforcement notice has been complied with and it is recommended that this case is closed."

However, Mr Biagi checked online and found the flat advertised on website Booking.com for up to 23 guests.

The ad says: "Boasting a Blu-ray player, the apartment has a kitchen with a dishwasher, a microwave and a fridge, a living room with a seating area and a dining area, 5 bedrooms, and 2 bathrooms with a hot tub and a bath. A flat-screen TV with satellite channels and a DVD player are offered."

Mr Biagi, who is bidding to stand the SNP candidate in Central at next year's Holyrood elections, said: "The conversion of flats from residential homes to what are basically hotels is a blight on this city. Dwindling supply hikes rents and frequent visitors are often a nightmare for neighbours that have to share the stair.

"I was stunned to now receive a letter notifying me of a case I raised almost six years ago on behalf of my then-constituents. I'm even more shocked to see that it was on the basis of an assurance that the flat would be rented out to students and that this was accepted despite the property still being listed for holiday use online.

"The Scottish Government needs to press ahead with introducing its proposed licensing scheme and reject the industry's calls for a delay."

Repeated attempts to contact the owners were unsuccessful.

A council spokeswoman, said the enforcement notice remained in effect, adding: “If we find there is evidence the property is in breach of the notice, further legal action will be taken. We look forward to short-term lets legislation from parliament early next year so we can implement the licensing regime we’ve been calling for.”

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