Edinburgh council to authorize short-term rentals

Edinburgh City Council today decided to take action to crack down on Airbnbs and other short-term rentals in the capital.

Over the past five years, there has been a significant increase in Short Term Rental (STL) properties in Edinburgh, especially using the Airbnb platform.

Council officials say more than a third of Scotland’s STL properties are in the capital, particularly Leith and the city center, causing shortages in the property market and forcing residents to leave their communities.

This led the council to propose a city-wide “control zone” – where owners must acquire a building permit to operate an STL.

At a council planning committee meeting on Wednesday, councilors voted to launch a consultation for city residents on the extent of the proposed control zone, with the results to be communicated to council, before a final proposal be sent to Scottish government ministers.

It used to be considered too expensive to crack down on short-term rentals, but now council officials believe planning and licensing fees can be used to cover enforcement costs.

During the process, council officers and elected members will be able to determine if a short-term rental is appropriate given the density, residential amenity and housing shortages in the area.

The control zone would extend to the whole city, instead of focusing on the city center and Leith, where the majority of STLs are located, as it is feared that this could lead to a high concentration of STL in neighboring areas.

According to the proposals, if a house was continuously operated as a TSL for more than 10 years before a TSL control area was designated and no enforcement action was taken during that period, a building permit would not be required.

Renting a room in your house or renting your property while on vacation would also still be allowed even if Edinburgh became an STL control area.

In addition, the Scottish government is currently consulting on legislation to introduce a licensing regime for VTS operators.

According to PLACE, a local network of Edinburgh residents battling short-term rentals, those who stay in areas with a high concentration of vacation rentals face antisocial behavior, rising rents and the dissolution of their homes. communities.

A PLACE spokesperson said, “Neighbors in short-term rentals are almost guaranteed to experience antisocial behavior from guests.

“Alcohol is a regular contributing factor that makes these situations particularly unpredictable and intimidating to deal with.

“PLACE network members regularly describe issues related to garbage disposal, parking issues, noise, people coming home late at night or arriving early in the morning, customers ringing the wrong doorbells or trying to go through the wrong doors, knock on doors, leave. fire alarms, dogs barking when pets are not allowed, friends of “guests” frequenting the property, parties, overcrowding, verbal abuse, property damage, intoxication, intrusion into private space, consumption of alcohol and tobacco in common areas and falsification of residents’ property.

The decision was greeted with dismay by an industry body that represents STL owners.

Fiona Campbell, Managing Director of the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers, said: Housing stock reduced.

“In addition, their proposals appear to be based on pre-pandemic lists from a single online platform and this does not accurately reflect the situation.

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

“Communities are being fooled into believing that regulation of short-term rentals will act as a panacea when in reality we have failed to build enough affordable housing or to bring a lot of empty properties back into service. .

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

“The ASSC looks forward to providing evidence at the next Council consultation and stressing the need for balanced, focused and proportionate regulation for the benefit of all relevant stakeholders in the city. “

by Joseph Anderson, journalist for local democracy

The Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) is a public service news agency: funded by the BBC, provided by the local news industry, and used by eligible partners. Local Democracy Reporters covers leading local authorities and other public service organizations.

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