Short-term rentals in the Scottish city of Edinburgh may soon require planning permission to operate after councillors voted for tighter regulations to be imposed.
A proposal to ask the Scottish Government to designate the city as a short-term let (STL) control area was unanimously approved by city councillors at a meeting of the council’s Planning Committee on 23 February.
If the government agrees, residential property owners wholly letting a property – which is not their primary home – as an STL through platforms like Airbnb would need to apply for planning permission for a ‘change of use’.
“Around a third of STLs in Scotland are in Edinburgh. They’re in every council ward in the city with concentrations in some areas,” said Councillor Neil Gardiner, Edinburgh City Council’s Planning Convener.
“We worked hard calling for new legislation to help us have greater controls over STLs and we’re now in a position to move forward and ask government if the whole of the city can be zoned as an STL control area.”
Last month, the Scottish Government directed councils to establish STL licensing schemes by October 2022, with whole properties being let out on a short-term basis required to apply for a licence by April 2023.
Reporting the results of a statutory consultation on making Edinburgh an STL control area, it added that 88 percent of the 5,600 people who responded supported the introduction of the scheme.
Renting out rooms or a primary residence will still be allowed under the new rules, however.
“If approved by government, these new powers for Edinburgh will provide the clarity we need where planning permission is required for a change of use,” Gardiner added.
“Just now, if it’s reported to us that a property has changed its use without planning permission, our enforcement team has to look at each case individually. This is a very lengthy and time-consuming process.”
In response to the proposal, an Airbnb spokesperson told capitaltribunenews.com: “The majority of hosts in Scotland share just one listing and do so occasionally to boost their income, with nearly 40 percent saying they rely on the earnings to make ends meet.
“Any changes to planning rules should protect the ability of everyday families in Edinburgh to continue to benefit from home sharing and we will continue to work with Scottish authorities to support these families and their communities as they recover from the pandemic.”
Despite a drop in the number of properties being rented out through platforms like Airbnb during the pandemic, the issue of their impact on cities’ housing ecosystems has been a source of intense debate, particularly in Europe.
Authorities have struggled to contain a proliferation of short-term property lets – lacking data to enforce limits on rental days or the number of properties in a building used for holiday lets.
In July 2021, a Paris court fined Airbnb €8.08 million (US$9.6 million) after the firm failed to comply with local regulations on listing apartments on the platform.
Some cities, like Barcelona, have taken measures like banning short-term private room rentals, but allowing the renting of entire apartments as long as the owner holds an appropriate licence.
Despite the ban, some hosts have continued to rent out private rooms on the site.
A spokesperson for Airbnb said: “Airbnb has always reminded hosts to check and follow local rules before they list on the platform.
“This is why we are working with authorities on rules that are easy to follow and work for all. Airbnb wants to be good partners to communities and we are regularly and voluntarily putting in place new tools to help hosts to follow the rules.”
In Amsterdam, the city council is aiming to introduce new regulations regarding buying property. They would mean that as of 1 April 2022, properties with an official listed value of up to €512,000 can only be sold to future owner-occupiers – meaning buyers must go on to live in the home themselves.
The measure is being introduced to protect current owner-occupied houses and apartments from being bought up by investors, a trend that has contributed to an acute affordability crisis in several European capitals.
One in three houses in Amsterdam are already in the hands of private investors, according to the city, which as stated that “homes are for living in, not for making profits“.
Image: cattan2011 (Flickr)
The post Edinburgh cracks down on short-term rentals appeared first on capitaltribunenews.com.