Edinburgh SNP politicians ask Scottish Government to pilot action on short-term lets in Capital

MPs, MSPs and councillors write to minister urging regulation on controversial letting sector

Thursday, 31st October 2019, 6:00 am
Some stairs in the Old Town have more or less been taken over by short-term lets

EDINBURGH'S SNP MPs, MSPs and councillors have written jointly to Local Government Minister Kevin Stewart calling for new initiatives to tackle short-term lets in the city.

The letter asks ministers to consider piloting innovative approaches to regulating the controversial lets in Edinburgh.

Their move comes after the Scottish Government said it would publish proposals on the issue later this year.

Tommy Sheppard says widescale letting of whole properties creates an anti-social nuisance.

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Edinburgh East MP Tommy Sheppard said: “None of us have a problem with people renting a spare room or their flat from time to time. However, widescale absentee letting of whole homes on a near permanent basis too often causes antisocial nuisance for residents – from the dunting of suitcases up tenement stairs to loud parties. It also prevents houses being homes to live in, causing rising rents and making buying unaffordable for too many, and hollowing out our communities.

“Our constituents are clear that they want to see decisive measures.”

The letter notes the public response to the recent Scottish Government consultation demonstrated widespread support for regulation.

And it says: "Current legislation does not provide the city council with enough powers to deal with these problems effectively.

"We welcome the fact that the Scottish Government recognises that the current route of planning enforcement is simply unsuitable, is too resource-intensive and does not provide the sort of remedies required to tackle the scale of the problem in our capital city."

And it argues the Greens have been wrong to suggest planning reform "as a panacea to tackling short-term letting" .

The letter goes on to propose "one or more regulatory pilots be undertaken, without the need for primary legislation, in areas of greatest need, such as Edinburgh".

It continues: "On the basis of your analysis of the consultation, we would like to see local authorities empowered as appropriate to implement regulatory licensing arrangements."

And it asks what measures the Scottish Government is exploring to deal with potential exploitation of the Small Business Bonus scheme by the owners of short-term let properties.

Edinburgh Northern and Leith MSP Ben Macpherson said the problem was affecting people’s day-to-day lives and the affordability of housing. "That’s why I’ve been working with SNP colleagues across Edinburgh and in the Scottish Government to seek and establish new, effective solutions to better regulate short-term letting in our city. I was very pleased to hear that the Scottish Government has committed to announcing policy proposals later this year to tackle the sorts of issues that my constituents are experiencing."

Councillor Kate Campbell, the city’s housing convener, said it was clear that short term lets in Edinburgh needed regulation, whether it was the anti-social behaviour experienced by too many, or rents becoming unaffordable because of the pressure on housing supply caused by the loss of so many homes.

She said: “As a local authority we want the powers to properly protect homes and communities and keep Edinburgh as a city that is affordable for people to live in.”