Edinburgh housing activists blow up Scottish government in the short term

Housing activists have slammed a Scottish government ‘U-turn’ on the regulation of short-term rentals in Edinburgh after powers to tackle ‘over-provision’ were removed at the final stage.

PLACE (Protecting Liveable Affordable Communities in Edinburgh) says legislation outlining changes in the way vacation rentals – such as those rented through platforms such as AirBnB – are permitted in the capital “mirror” too closely a book white established by the company earlier this year.

Housing Secretary Shona Robison insisted that councils do not need additional powers to manage excess rental stock in the short term, adding that “control zones” provide enough leeway to regulate ‘accommodation.

But PLACE argues that the decision shows a “fundamental misunderstanding” of the problems faced by local authorities, adding that they may be “powerless” to tackle the housing shortage.

The organization said: “In June, Airbnb released its white paper which explains how they

wished their ideal “regulation” would look across the UK.

“The changes proposed by the Scottish Government appear to reflect these in a disappointing way: self-certification, no controls on over-provision and a weakened ability to enforce building permit standards.

“Corporate lobbying behind closed doors cannot be allowed to win over the needs of communities.

“We implore the Secretary to the Cabinet to read our evidence and reconsider his position. “

The legislation was triggered in response to growing problems in major cities, especially the capital, with vacation rental accommodation and problems caused by short-term rentals to neighbors.

In a letter to MSPs from the Holyrood local government planning and housing committee earlier this month, Ms Robison said there would be “practical and significant changes” to the program.

These included a simplification of the way neighbors are notified of license applications, as well as the removal of personal names from the public registry for short-term rentals.

Boards were given a grace period until October 2022 to set up a licensing system, with all short-term housing to be licensed by April 2024.

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A Scottish Government spokesperson said: ‘Regulation of short-term rentals is vital in balancing the needs and concerns of communities with broader economic and tourism interests. Our proposals ensure that all short term rentals across Scotland adhere to a common set of safety standards.

“The powers granted to local communities to establish control zones are sufficient to implement over-provisioning policies, when they wish.

“We intend to table licensing legislation in the Scottish Parliament in November. We are committed to ensuring that this important legislation is absolutely correct and to monitoring its implementation. “

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