Airbnb says Edinburgh’s crackdown on short-term rentals will have little effect

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On Wednesday August 11, council leaders seeking to tackle anti-social behaviour, housing shortages and gentrification took their first step towards a crackdown on Airbnbs and other short-term rentals by launching a consultation with residents on a ” control zone” suggested.

The control zone would span the entire city and mean that AirBnB and other short-term rental owners must obtain planning permission to use the property for this reason.

Airbnb locked boxes on West Bow in central Edinburgh. (Photo: Lisa Ferguson)

During this process, council officers and councilors will be able to determine if a short-term rental is suitable based on density, residential amenities and housing shortages in the area.

The control area would be city-wide, instead of focusing on the city center and Leith, where the majority of STLs are located, for fear that this would lead to a high concentration of STLs in neighboring areas .

Under the proposals, if a home has been converted to a secondary rental and operated continuously as an STL for more than 10 years before an STL control area was designated and no enforcement action was taken during this period, a building permit would not be required.

However, Airbnb bosses hit back at Edinburgh City Council’s proposals, saying they were “concerned about the impact” and that it won’t affect the majority of hosts anyway.

Patrick Robinson, director of public policy at Airbnb, said: “We don’t expect this proposal to affect the majority of hosts, who typically rent their own homes part-time for less than 60 nights a year, with around half saying the extra income is an economic lifeline.

“We are concerned about the impact these measures could have on some hosts who bring great benefits to Scotland, and we look forward to engaging with Edinburgh City Council to ensure the best outcome for everyone. “

Airbnb owners in the capital are also under pressure from the Scottish government, which is currently consulting on legislation to introduce a licensing regime for STL operators.

According to PLACE, a local network of Edinburgh residents fighting against short-term rentals, those who stay in areas with a high concentration of holiday rentals face anti-social behaviour, rising rents and the dissolution of their communities.

However, Fiona Campbell, chief executive of the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers, said ‘communities are being tricked’ into believing the regulations will solve these problems.

Ms Campbell said: ‘Edinburgh Council’s draft proposals for a city-wide short-term rental control area are grossly disproportionate and lack empirical evidence to support claims that such accommodation has reduced the stock of accommodations.

“Furthermore, their proposals appear to rely on pre-pandemic listings from a single online platform and this does not provide an accurate reflection of the situation.

“Independent properties have had a long-standing presence in the capital for decades, enhancing the tourism offering and boosting the local economy, and should not be used as a convenient scapegoat for political failures elsewhere.

“Communities are led to believe that regulating short-term rentals will act as a panacea when in reality we have failed to build enough affordable housing or bring back into service a large number of empty properties.

“Last year, self-catering generated £50million for Edinburgh’s economy. For a city renowned for its hospitality, it is deeply disappointing that local policymakers are seeking to address Edinburgh’s multi-faceted housing problems by focusing on tourist accommodation and damaging small businesses in the process.

“The ASSC looks forward to providing evidence at the upcoming Council consultation and to highlighting the need for balanced, targeted and proportionate regulation to benefit all relevant stakeholders in the city.”

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