Self-catering bosses accuse Edinburgh council chiefs of making them Airbnb ‘scapegoats’

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The explosion of short-term rentals – separate from catering establishments – has led to anti-social behavior, housing shortages and gentrification.

Since 2016, there has been a significant increase in Short Term Rental (STL) properties in Edinburgh, especially on the Airbnb platform.

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Airbnb safes on West Bow in central Edinburgh.

But the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers (ASSC), says its members are being used as a “practical scapegoat” and should not be treated the same as other short-term rentals that will be subject to an area of. city-wide control. as part of the board’s draft proposals.

Fiona Campbell, Chief Executive Officer of ASSC, said: “The Edinburgh City Council’s draft proposals for a city-wide short-term rental control area are grossly disproportionate and lack empirical evidence for support claims that such housing has reduced the housing stock.

“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.

“Scapegoats” – Fiona Cameron of the ASSC

“Independent properties have a long history in the capital for decades, improving the tourist offer and boosting the local economy, and should not be used as a convenient scapegoat for political failures elsewhere.”

Ms Campbell continued, “Communities are being tricked into believing that the regulation of short-term rentals will act as a panacea when in reality we have failed to build enough affordable housing or bring a new home back into service. large number of empty properties.

“Last year stand-alone 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.

She added, “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. “

According to Edinburgh City Council officials, more than a third of Scotland’s STL properties are in the capital.

This has increased pressure on a real estate market – forcing residents to leave their communities and speeding up the gentrification of the Northeast and Leith.

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.

This has led the heads of Edinburgh City Council to propose a city-wide ‘control zone’ – where owners must acquire a building permit to operate an STL.

During this process, council officers and advisors 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 has been converted into a secondary rental and continuously operated as an STL for more than 10 years before an STL control area is designated and no enforcement action has been taken for during this period, a building permit would not be required.

In addition, generally renting a room in your house or renting your property while on vacation would also still be allowed 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.

Now the council has agreed to launch a consultation with city residents on the scope of the proposed control area.

At a council planning committee meeting on Wednesday 11 August, councilors voted to launch the consultation, with the results to be communicated to council, before a final proposal was sent to Scottish government ministers.

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 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.

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