Lettings

Edinburgh to crack down on short term lettings

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Flats are a particular target for control

Councillors in Edinburgh are expected to designate the city a short term let control area to ease the rental bottleneck and tackle disruption to local neighbourhoods.

A vote in favour at next week’s planning committee will see the local authority submit a formal request for new powers to the Scottish Government.

These would require residential property owners to apply for a “change of use” in order to wholly short let a property which is not their principal home.

The majority (88%) of all respondents in a public consultation were in favour of this approach, and 85% for the entire area to be included.

About a third of Scotland’s STLs are in Edinburgh.  At the moment the council’s enforcement team looks at each case individually, which is a very lengthy and time consuming process.

The introduction of powers to make a control area follows the Council calling for new legislation to tighten up the control of STLs to help manage high concentrations of secondary letting where it affects the availability of residential housing or the character of a neighbourhood.

Also, it will help to restrict or prevent STLs in places or types of buildings where they are not appropriate as well as making sure homes are used to best effect in their areas.

Generally renting out a room/s in a house or letting a property whilst on holiday would also still be allowed if Edinburgh became an STL control area.

The Scottish Parliament has approved legislation which will introduce a new licensing scheme, which the Council also called for, which will come into effect later this year. It will address the issues of safety, anti-social behaviour and noise.

These issues have all had a detrimental effect on communities as the number of STLs has greatly increased across the city in recent years.

Councillor Neil Gardiner planning convener said: “We worked hard calling for new legislation to help us have greater controls over STLs as we know they are an issue for many of our residents across the city.

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“This report highlights the growing pressures of the STL commercial market, which requires a cross-city approach to regulations. With high concentrations in central areas, there are commercial STLs in every council ward in this city.

“In some areas STLs have hollowed out communities, put more pressure on the housing market causing prices to rise, and created other issues such as anti-social behaviour and noise.”

The scheme has not been welcomed by some sections of the property letting sector. Fiona Campbell, chief executive of the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers, said: “Including the whole of Edinburgh in this restrictive and anti-business scheme will have a hugely detrimental impact on the many small businesses who work tirelessly to ensure that the capital has one of the world’s best tourism offerings.

“The real problem Edinburgh has is a lack of house building, but our local authority has chosen to pick on an easy scapegoat rather than address the real and difficult issue.

“Despite the misrepresentation that we have had to deal with, the ASSC will continue to promote self-catering in Edinburgh, and across Scotland, and remains committed to finding a policy solution that works for all.”



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