New proposals to stop the Capital becoming an Airbnb ghost town

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A new strategy to regulate Airbnb and other short term lets in the city centre will safeguard Capital communities, council chiefs have vowed.

The City of Edinburgh Council leadership has outlined minimum standards they would expect from a licensing regime for short term lets – if permission was granted by the Scottish Government.

Airbnb needs to be regulated better, it has been argued.

Airbnb needs to be regulated better, it has been argued.

A licence would be required for anyone either operating a property on a commercial or professional basis – or for at least 45 days a year. The licensing rules would ensure that any owners or operators were “fit and proper” and that certain safety standards are met.

The council also wants the ability to “control of otherwise cap the number of properties licensed across the local authority area or in specific areas of the local authority”.

Council Leader Cllr Adam McVey, said: “In Edinburgh, the city centre population are understandably looking for action. They are not looking for a sledgehammer approach – what they want is sensible regulation and control.

“I’m really grateful to the Scottish Government for acknowledging that we have an issue in Edinburgh and their willingness to come with us in exploring better ways to try and improve things in the city.”

He added: “It’s partly about where the properties are, but it’s far more about how they are operated.

“When a short term let is run poorly, for a community, it can be incredibly disruptive. When it’s run well through best practice, it can have a positive impact on the community.”

The council is set to establish a team to deal with complaints about short term lets. The team would use powers the council currently has available to address problems.

A report to next week’s policy and strategy committee highlights that “the concentration in certain areas is eroding the sense of community in some neighbourhoods”.

It adds: “Regular use of any tenement flat as a short term let is inconsistent with tenemental living, and often leads to antisocial behaviour and undue nuisance to other residents. It remains clear that the council lacks specific regulatory powers which would allow it to effectively respond to all the issues currently faced by the city.”

Airbnb has proposed an annual 90-day cap on usage across the city, excluding the peak summer and festive periods.

Deputy council leader, Cllr Cammy Day, has welcomed the willingness by Airbnb to be regulated in Edinburgh and wants action to address short term lets in tenement flats.

He said: “People should pay their fair share of taxes and act like any other responsible neighbour.”

newsen@edinburghnews.com