Edinburgh’s SNP politicians call on Scottish Government to regulate short-term lets
SNP politicians in Edinburgh have issued a joint call for the Scottish Government to take action on short-term lets “as a matter of priority”.
Nine SNP councillors, MSPs and MPs have written to local government minister Kevin Stewart asking him to bring in regulation to deal with “increasingly problematic” short-term letting in the city.
The group includes two Scottish Government ministers, Ben McPherson and Ash Denham, as well as fellow MSP Gordon MacDonald, MPs Deidre Brock, Tommy Sheppard and Joanna Cherry, as well as councillors Adam McVey, Kate Campbell and Cathy Fullerton.
They highlight the impact short-term letting is having on their constituents due to noise, anti-social behaviour, affect on communities and availability of housing.
The letter says: “None of us are against occasional short-term letting of a flat or spare room. “However, regular short-term letting of whole properties is increasingly problematic in our constituencies.
“Each of our offices receive requests for help from constituents who are enduring significant disruption from flats in their tenements and streets that are being used for short-term lets on a regular basis; and who are concerned about the erosion and hollowing out of once vibrant residential communities.
“Furthermore, the operation of several unregistered and unregulated de facto hotels operating across Edinburgh brings increased levels of anti-social behaviour and health and safety implications.
“The growth of short-term lets has also taken many homes, which would otherwise have been available for long-term rent, out of the residential housing supply; it is detrimentally inflating housing costs and making housing less affordable for local people and key workers.
“This is adding to the already challenging circumstances in Edinburgh’s housing market.”
The letter suggests a pilot of regulation to be introduced in Edinburgh in the short term, followed by councils being given the powers to license short-term lets in the same way as many other European cities.
They also suggest looking at whether short-term letting businesses are able to exploit the small business bonus scheme.
Speaking on behalf of the city’s SNP MSPs, Edinburgh Northern and Leith MSP Ben Macpherson said: “There are too many whole properties being used regularly for short-term letting in my constituency, which is negatively affecting local people’s day-to-day lives and the affordability of housing.
“That’s why I’ve been working with SNP colleagues across Edinburgh and in the Scottish Government to seek and establish new, effective solutions to better regulate short-term letting in our city – and it’s also why this week I was very pleased to hear that the Scottish Government has committed to announcing policy proposals later this year to tackle the sorts of issues that my constituents are experiencing.
“Our joint letter, as team Edinburgh SNP, emphasises that across the capital we want to see strong, decisive action to address the problems that short-term letting is causing in our city, and I am pleased that taking appropriate action is exactly what the Scottish Government is gearing up to do.”
Commenting on behalf of the city’s SNP MPs, Tommy Sheppard added: “We’re delighted that the Scottish Government is taking this issue seriously.
“None of us have a problem with people renting a spare room or their flat from time to time.
“However, widescale absentee letting of whole homes on a near permanent basis too often causes antisocial nuisance for residents – from the dunting of suitcases up tenement stairs to loud parties.
“It also prevents houses being homes to live in, causing rising rents and making buying unaffordable for too many, and hollowing out our communities.
“Our constituents are clear that they want to see decisive measures on Edinburgh’s short-term lets problem.
“I’m hugely heartened by the Scottish Government’s response and look forward to their proposals.”
Councillor Kate Campbell, the city’s housing, homelessness and fair work convener, said: “It’s clear that short term lets in Edinburgh need regulation.
“Whether it’s the anti-social behaviour experienced by too many, or that rents are becoming unaffordable because of the pressure on housing supply caused by the loss of so many homes.
“I very much welcome the recognition from the Scottish Government of the impact on Edinburgh and the commitment to working with us on getting the legislation we need.
“As a local authority we want the powers to properly protect homes and communities and keep Edinburgh as a city that is affordable for people to live in.”