Edinburgh introduces further rules to curb Airbnb-style short-term lets in the city
The City of Edinburgh Council has agreed to introduce additional powers to enable it to regulate Airbnb-style short-term lets.
Earlier this year the Scottish Government passed legislation that means planning permission is required to change the use of an entire property that is not a person’s main home into a short-term let. Edinburgh will introduce that change tomorrow.
The additional powers, designed to curb anti-social behaviour and agreed by the local authority’s regulatory committee yesterday, will prevent short-term lets being allowed in properties within tenement or other shared-door buildings. They will also introduce maximum occupancy levels and compulsory safety checks on gas and electricity supplies.
In addition, the new rules will enable people letting out rooms within their own home to apply for temporary licences to try out short-term letting before a full licence application is made, while it has been agreed that temporary exemptions can be made to ease accommodation pressures during events such as the summer festivals.
Neil Ross, convener of the regulatory committee, said the changes were “great news for our local communities as well as the visitors who come to Edinburgh each year”.
“Around a third of all short-term lets are here in Edinburgh and the new licensing scheme will give us greater control over where short-term lets are situated,” he said.
“Issues of safety and anti-social behaviour have been having a detrimental effect on our residents so I’m pleased to see the new scheme will make sure licence holders meet the right safety requirements and occupancy levels and that they will have to obtain the correct planning permission as a condition of their licence.
“I’m pleased that as well as introducing the conditions set by the Scottish Government, we’ve had the flexibility under the new legislation to introduce our own conditions too.
“Concerns around the management of secondary letting came up time and again during our consultations and we’ve recognised that in Edinburgh unless there’s a good reason for an exemption applicants won’t be given a licence in tenements and shared-door properties.”
Fiona Campbell, chief executive of the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers, said the new rules were a “hammer blow” for the tourism industry in Edinburgh.
“We are extremely disappointed that business and tourism stakeholder group warnings have once again been overlooked, jeopardising the £70m economic boost self-catering provides to Edinburgh, as well as the hundreds of jobs and livelihoods this supports,” she said.
“What has been agreed amounts to nothing less than a de-facto ban on secondary letting and we note the council’s recognition that aspects of their policy carry significant legal risk.
“This is despite the fact that self-catering properties have been a long-standing presence in the capital for decades and should not therefore be used as a convenient scapegoat for policy failures elsewhere.
“There are also wider implications for Edinburgh, including for the future viability of the festivals. We are presuming that the rebuttable presumption against the grant of a licence in stairwells, means that no home in a stairwell will be granted a temporary exemption either, in which case the Edinburgh Festival 2023 is in considerable trouble indeed.”