SHORT-TERM holiday lets are now worth almost as much to the Capital’s economy as the city’s historic festivals – according to a new report by the world’s largest letting firm.
Data provided by leasing giant AirBnB revealed the city earned almost £240 million from rentals last year, compared to £280m brought in during festival season.
The report also claimed hosts earned an average of £4,300 a year from renting over 10,000 different properties to visitors in the last 12 months.
However, opponents blasted the figures, claiming short-term lets were “heightening the housing crisis” adding crucial regulation of the properties was needed to curb the “out of control growth” of rentals.
In January, the company proposed hosts would be subject to a 90-day rental limit every year, outwith “peak festival periods”, meaning they had a maximum of just three months to let their properties to visitors.
It came after city centre residents complained short-term rentals were “ripping the heart out of communities”, with many tenement blocks becoming almost fully populated by holiday flats.
Pressure on local services, include refuse collection and noise pollution caused by “party flats” were also highlighted as concerns.
Andy Wightman, MSP for Lothian and housing spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, accused AirBnB of trying the “charm offensive” on locals.
He added: “This commercial industry disguised as ‘helping residents’ convinces no-one in Edinburgh where the uncontrolled growth of short-term lets is heightening the housing crisis and causing continuing distress for residents.”
“Moreover, the data is not verified and cannot be treated with any credibility.”
Mr Wightman continued: “The Scottish Government must give local councils powers to regulate this industry, which is contributing to the loss of badly-needed long-term homes in our city centres and rural communities.”
Across Scotland, AirBnB activity was valued at around £483m, with over 1.4 million users over the last year.
Glasgow and the Isle of Skye were the two other most popular parts of the country for short-term lettings, with the Capital earning more than four times that of the second city from rental properties.
Natasha Mytton Mills, UK Policy Manager for AirBnB said: “We’re proud of the community of hosts who are helping to spread the benefits of guests to neighbourhoods across the country.”
She added: “This shows that it’s not only the most popular tourist destinations that are thriving, but also that guests on Airbnb are keen to travel the less trodden path and meet real Scottish families.”
AirBnB refused to comment further when asked about the impact of holiday lets on local communities and services.