Monday December 5th 2022
Edinburgh’s ‘Airbnb crackdown’ is set to get even tougher thanks to planned new policies which would introduce a “de-facto ban” on short-term lets.
A suite of policies designed to strip the Capital of controversial holiday lets and return thousands of properties to residential use are already taking effect.
And the crackdown will get even tougher under the city’s new 10-year development plan, which contains guidance that would in effect allow the council to refuse any short terms lets anywhere in the city.
Short-term let (STL) owners – who have already been told they need to apply for planning permission and a license to operate – have reacted furiously to the changes, with reports that around 50 ‘angry’ landlords turned up to a recent council information session and claimed Edinburgh’s tourism industry ‘would collapse’ without them.
But housing campaigners hailed the new measures as a “step in the right direction for Edinburgh’s tenants”.
And Cllr Jane Meagher, the council’s housing convener, argued Edinburgh needs properties “back as homes” rather than “poorly-managed holiday lets”.
She urged people with second homes to consider leasing to the local authority for use as temporary accommodation which she said would give landlords “guaranteed money”.
With an estimated 10,000 STLs, the Capital is thought to be home to around a third of all in Scotland. The rise of sites like Airbnb, which give tourists greater freedom of accommodation and property owners the chance to boost profits, is seen as a major contributor to the city’s housing crisis.
Earlier this year Edinburgh became Scotland’s first holiday let ‘control zone’ requiring any STL that is not the owner’s principal home to have planning permission in place. However, this does not apply to those in use as visitor accommodation for more than 10 years.
Gaining permission for change of use will also be an essential part of the council’s STL licensing scheme which launches in April as part of efforts to further regulate the market.
‘So far planners have received hundreds of applications, mostly for holiday lets within tenements or other shared-door blocks, with a number refused already due to disruption often caused to neighbours by late night parties and high turnover of guests.’
However, Edinburgh’s ‘City Plan 2030’, which sets out the council’s approach to planning and land use for the next decade, contains a new policy which will introduce a presumption against any loss of residential housing.
It states proposals will be rejected if they “result in the loss of residential dwellings through demolition or a change of use” unless in “exceptional circumstances”. Although still under review by the Scottish Government and possibly not taking effect until 2024, the policy would hand planning officers the power to refuse the vast majority of STLs.
Fiona Campbell, Chief Executive of the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers, said: “Edinburgh Council’s proposed short-term let planning policy, alongside their onerous licensing regime, will in effect introduce a de-facto ban on self-catering.”
She said holiday lets represent a £70m boost to the city’s economy and added the move gives “scant regard” to small businesses who contribute to tourism.
“This measure not only threatens livelihoods but has wider ramifications,” she continued. At a time when concerns have been raised about the future viability of the Festivals due to a shortage of accommodation, this measure is perverse and completely wrong-headed.”
Meanwhile Mike Williamson from Living Rent Edinburgh said: “The council’s guidance is a welcome step in the right direction for Edinburgh’s tenants.
“Now is a real opportunity for the council to act in the interests of the city’s residents and take measures to reduce the 10,000 holiday lets in Edinburgh, each one of which could and should be a home.
“Holiday let landlords have had it far too easy for too long, making a fast buck at the expense of everybody else. Their baseless complaints about what is sensible regulation should be ignored. The council’s regulation will go some way in having a positive impact on the state of housing in the city.”
Living Rent members claimed a group of around 50 disgruntled landlords attended a recent drop-in session which was hosted as part of a consultation on the proposed planning guidance which runs until December 22.
It is understood some fielded ‘reasonable’ questions to planning officials but others argued STLs have a ‘positive impact on the city’ and the the tourism industry ‘would collapse without them’.
Councillor Jane Meagher, Edinburgh City Council’s housing convener, said:
“Edinburgh is a growing city and we face housing pressures like nowhere else in Scotland, with the lowest proportion of social housing in the country and biggest, most expensive, private rented sector.
“We urgently need to work together as a city and with Government to truly tackle homelessness and Edinburgh’s housing challenge.
“Now, more than ever, Edinburgh needs these properties back as homes – and we want to work positively with those landlords who are ending short term letting but who are considering longer term lease arrangements.
“Overnight we could create 1,000 extra places to live for residents who have no home this winter, if just one in 10 holiday lets switched to Private Sector Leasing (PSL) with the Council.
“This is a scheme which is provided by Link Housing. Landlords who sign up are protected with guaranteed money, irrespective of whether tenants pay their rent or if the property is empty through no fault of their own.
“Leasing with us could drastically support Capital residents during one of the most financially difficult times on record for UK households.”
Correction to article published yesterday 05/12/12:
The original article stated that:
‘So far planners have refused hundreds of applications, mostly for holiday lets within tenements or other shared-door blocks due to disruption often caused to neighbours by late night parties and high turnover of guests.’
This has been corrected above to say:
‘So far planners have received hundreds of applications, mostly for holiday lets within tenements or other shared-door blocks, with a number refused already due to disruption often caused to neighbours by late night parties and high turnover of guests.’Tweet Share on Facebook