COUNCIL chiefs have seized control of two “party flats” following the first court case of its kind in Scotland.
They will now effectively become landlords of the Grove Street pads – after winning an order forcing owner Ian Scott to hand over his keys.
The flats were being rented out to stag and hen parties, sparking a flood of complaints about noise and antisocial behaviour from angry residents. To catch out the rogue landlord, council trading standards officers even posed as stag and hen party organisers seeking party digs. Officers of both sexes made “test purchases”, booking short stays for “groups” of revellers.
At a hearing at Edinburgh Sheriff Court yesterday, Sheriff Kathrine Mackie approved the council’s application for a management control order (MCO). The council has now been given the “rights and obligations of a landlord” over the Fountainbridge properties for a year.
As the move is a first in Scotland, lawyers are still discussing with council chiefs the exact responsibilities they will have to assume as landlords. This may include continuing to rent out the properties to visitors who have made bookings, although no large groups or stag and hen parties will be permitted, and passing income to Mr Scott.
Stuart Gale QC, representing the council, told the court that Mr Scott had made “repeated and quite flagrant breaches” of enforcement notices that had been slapped on him.
Mr Gale conceded reports of antisocial behaviour had declined, but explained the landlord was still advertising flats for rent on a website. He was charging £800 for a two-night stay.
He said: “Mr Scott has failed to respond in a meaningful way to this litigation and continued to take applications for these premises.”
As well as granting the MCO, Sheriff Mackie made Mr Scott liable for court expenses. In May, tormented neighbours in Grove Street said that their quiet neighbourhood was being disturbed by 20-strong groups of rowdy revellers every Friday night. Shrieking women toting blow-up dolls and people throwing up in the street were standard behaviour.
Councillor Cammy Day, the city’s community safety leader, said: “I hope this court ruling sends out a clear message to landlords.”
Mr Scott failed to attend yesterday’s hearing but when later contacted by the Evening News, said he was unaware of the court case, adding: “I have nothing to say about this.”