“Holiday rentals are accelerating the housing crisis in the Highlands”
Living Rent members will deliver a petition to Highland Council signed by hundreds of residents calling for greater regulation of short-term rentals in the area.
The local authority is currently holding an online public consultation on a short-term rental control area for Badenoch and Strathspey.
The deadline for submissions is this Friday when the group hands in their petition.
The Highlands is one of Scotland’s leading short-term rental locations and growth in holiday homes thanks to demand for properties fueled by the rise of Airbnb, Booking.com and other booking sites has a massive impact on local communities.
Soaring prices lead to the loss of long-term housing and lack of affordable housing for local residents.
However, critics from the tourism sector believe the control zone will do little to increase the supply of accommodation and will harm the local economy.
They said some properties in the Strath area were already being converted into second homes from rentals and contributing far less in monetary terms to local businesses.
A spokesperson for Living Rent said: “People in the Highlands are forced to live in trailers or unsuitable accommodation, while young people are stuck with their parents or unable to continue living in their communities and workers are forced to live away from work because finding suitable accommodation in the Highlands is so difficult.
“The housing shortage is impacting local services as NHS workers are unable to fill vacancies and schools struggle to attract workers.
“Holiday rentals are accelerating the housing crisis in the Highlands and with people already struggling with inflation, energy costs and stagnant wages, it is crucial that they can access affordable accommodation locally.”
Members of Living Rent will deliver a petition signed by over 200 Highland residents asking the council to tighten regulations around holiday rentals and reduce the total number of short-term rentals.
One of the proposals is that the number of vacation rentals be reduced from the current level by limiting the number of homes in any neighborhood that can be converted into short-term rentals.
The petition also calls for each short-term rental authorization to have a time limit that would allow local communities to be more responsive to their housing needs and that there be as few exceptions as possible to the area. control of short-term rentals in order to prioritize accommodation for local residents.
The group says more than 17% of potential housing stock has been lost to tourist accommodation in the Strath, while the public housing waiting list for Badenoch and Strathspey has risen by 40% in the last five years.
This is considerably higher than in the rest of the Highlands.
The Scottish Government has introduced new legislation to regulate short-term rentals and Edinburgh and the Highlands are the first councils to implement it this year.
The petition can be found here
Living Rent member Sean Robertson said: ‘I’m a lab worker at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness. My colleagues and I have been under tremendous pressure to work since the pandemic, but the cost of housing, including rents and house prices, has skyrocketed.
“The median rent in Inverness for a two-bedroom property is £700 a month.
“Private rents are unaffordable for workers on my gross salary of £25,000. Social housing is not available. I can’t afford to buy a house at the going price.
“The proliferation of short-term rentals, which further reduces the stock of available housing, only makes this problem even worse.
“By not only limiting the growth of short-term and holiday rentals, but significantly reducing the total number of homes devoted to short-term and holiday rentals, the council could help solve the housing crisis.
“It would mean building a life and career in the Highlands would be a viable option, as key workers would not be left out of the market.
“No one is against tourists visiting the Highlands, but when profit takes priority over the sustainability of communities, key workers and public services, urgent action must be taken.
“The council should reduce short-term rentals and deploy control areas throughout the region as quickly as possible.”
In the short term, the control zone is moving forward for Badenoch and Strathspey
Scottish ministers approve STL control area for strath – just the second in Scotland after Edinburgh
Living Rent member Hollie Irvine said: “I have worked on various projects across the Highlands and Islands over the past year.
“I have also applied for more project roles in the region, from community projects to third sector roles in Lewis, Mull in Fort William and Aviemore.
“I couldn’t find rental properties, which meant I had to turn down jobs or I wasn’t selected because I didn’t have access to accommodation to start the role.
“I have lost jobs and projects due to a lack of housing which is such a shame because depopulation is a huge problem and when people want to move there to work and contribute to local communities they have to sleeping in a tent or commuting for miles..
“That’s why we need more regulation from the council.”
Who are we ?
Living Rent is the Scottish Tenants’ Union. Its aim is to seek to ‘unite and represent all tenants in Scotland, whether they are renting in the private or social sector’.
The group is not affiliated with any political party and answers only to its members.
She advocates for better rights for tenants, protections against rent increases, evictions and poor quality housing, and we represent and defend our members when they have housing issues.
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