Short term lets

Council says 80% airbnb cull is ‘double counting’

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Short term lets have divided opinion

Edinburgh could see a sharp reduction in airbnb accommodation as a result of new rule changes, according to a new document.

An estimated 80% fall far outstrips forecasts by the sector itself which has warned that the changes to short terms lets will decimate the tourism industry.

The council’s findings emerge in a report considering changes to regulations, including the forthcoming visitor levy or tourist tax.

It estimates that between £5.6 million and £37m could be raised annually from a levy if applied to all hotels, self-catering apartments, bed and breakfast/guest houses, short-term lets and hostels in Edinburgh.

Local authorities have also been given the power to introduce short-term let control areas under the legislation passed by the Scottish Government.

However, city council leader Cammy Day says the 80% figure takes account of potential for double counting in the listings and that the council needed to get an accurate assessment of the level of income that would result from the proposed visitor levy or tourist tax.

The report reveals: “A conservative assumption has been applied to the potential cross over in accommodation lines and the future supply of the short-term let sector in Edinburgh.

“There are some cross over between self-catering apartment and serviced apartments, also between Airbnb properties and guesthouses. In addition to this there will be an impact from the new licensing and regulations decision locally to be applied from September 2023.

“To account for all of these together, an assumption of an 80% reduction from the Edinburgh 2021 number of active listings reported on Airbnb, as a proxy for the size of short terms lets.”

Commenting on the 80% estimate, Councillor Day said: “This is an estimate to make sure that we don’t over anticipate the level of income that can be generated from the visitor levy.

“As noted in the report the 80% reduction also takes account of the potential for double counting between listings that can appear on multiple registers.”

Louise Dickins, director of the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers (ASSC) claimed the report vindicated its warnings. She said: “Our worst fears have not only been realised, they have been exceeded.

“Our industry is pro-regulation, but this legislation hasn’t been designed to regulate – it has been designed to destroy small businesses.

“The Scottish Government needs to step in and control this situation before irreparable damage is inflicted on the entire country.”

A recent survey of around 1,270 short-let businesses by the ASSC found around 60% of operators had not applied for a licence ahead of new legislation going live.

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