Edinburgh Council Set to Approve Airbnb’s Short-Term Rental Control Zone Across the City

ALL Airbnb properties in Edinburgh that are not used as accommodation should be required to obtain planning permission after city officials recommended ‘designating the entire council area as a short term control area’. term”.

Under current planning guidelines for Edinburgh, there is no policy against granting permission for short-term rentals, although appeal hearings have generally been rejected at properties with shared stairs .

A new planning vision being developed for Edinburgh is likely to require short-term rental permission not to be considered appropriate in apartments with shared stairs.

In justifying their city-wide proposals, council officials pointed to a decision “to ensure they are only allowed in appropriate places and circumstances” – paving the way for the potential exclusion of any property that Airbnb lets in apartments with shared stairs.

The overwhelming majority of those polled in a council consultation were in favor of including the whole city in the control area plans – 85% backing the strategy.

The Scottish government has given councils the power to introduce a short-term permit control area, although SNP ministers can veto any plans by local authorities.

A landlord who rents a residential property that is not their primary residence on a short-term rental basis will need to apply for a “change of use” approval through the development application process, according to plans from officials advice.

The Short Term Rental Control Zone would not affect the rental of rooms or the rental of the entire residential property when it is the owner’s primary residence and the owner is away.

A report to be considered by city councilors next week argued that the entire city should be designated as a control area “to manage the number and location of short-term rentals” which officials say will “help address the availability of residential housing and impacts on neighborhood character”.

The document also says the proposal will “ensure homes are put to best use”.

Data collected in March 2019 revealed that there were nearly 9,000 entire properties listed on Airbnb in Edinburgh – a single platform offering short-term rentals. Council officials pointed out that the pandemic had impacted the number of Airbnb rentals in the city, but there were still more than 4,000 full properties listed on Airbnb in the city as of October last year.

Edinburgh has had particular problems with a high concentration of Airbnb-style short-term rentals, contributing to a “city-wide problem of reduced housing availability and affordability issues”.

Officials added: ‘He estimated that there had been a loss of around 10 per cent of rented private accommodation to short-term rentals in recent years. The rapid growth of short-term rentals has had an impact on both supply and rental levels.

“Between 2014 and 2017, the city saw an additional 2,700 properties per year listed as available on Airbnb, while private rental sector inventory fell by 560 per year.”

Research also found that between 2014 and 2016, rents soared by as much as 27%, significantly above average, “in areas bordering a high concentration of short-term rentals”.

Councilors will vote on the plans at a meeting on Wednesday.

The council’s SNP planning manager, Neil Gardiner, said: “This report highlights the growing pressures in the commercial STL market, which requires a long-distance approach to regulation.

“With high concentrations in central areas, there are commercial STLs in every council ward of this city.

“In some areas, STLs have gutted communities, put more pressure on the housing market, driving up prices, and created other issues such as anti-social behavior and noise.”

The Scottish Greens have long campaigned for planning regulations to be used to curb the explosion of Airbnb-style short-term rentals in the capital.

Chas Booth, Edinburgh Greens planning spokesman, said: “I warmly welcome the recommendation that the whole city should be defined as a short-term rental control area.

“Party flats can cause misery for residents, so this will be an important start to controlling their impact. I hope Scottish Ministers will be quick to grant permission.”

He added: “Of course, this should only be the first step in the journey towards effective regulation of vacation rentals in the city. We also need an effective licensing system and, above all, we need the new city plan 2030 to be approved, with checks on the loss of housing to other uses.

“Only then can we start tackling a sector that has helped to skyrocket housing costs for too many people.”

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