A LOOPHOLE in holiday lets is being abused by some Scottish landlords and undermining protection for tenants, according to a new report.

Living Rent, Scotland’s tenants’ union, is calling for urgent action to plug the gap that allows landlords to remain exempt from regulations relating to private rented housing.

Its report claims the holiday let leases give tenants none of the protections under short assured tenancies or Scottish private residential tenancies.

Living Rent claims it has been approached by increasing numbers of tenants who have felt compelled to sign such contracts.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has already announced a consultation into holiday lets, but Living Rent says Holyrood could go a long way towards closing the loophole without new legislation.

It said many tenants of Edinburgh landlord Mark Fortune have spoken out about the “appalling” conditions in his properties. He was refused entry from the landlord register, but Living Rent said he was getting around this by using the loophole.

Living rent’s Megan Bishop, co-author of the report, said: “It’s abysmal how tenants are being treated. We’ve had cases from tenants living in properties in such extreme disrepair it’s threatening their health and safety.”

One tenant, known as Ellie, had to stay in a holiday let property for eight months on rolling monthly leases.

She let the property through Edinburgh Holiday and Party Lets (EHPL), a company linked to Fortune. Her lease contained the clause: “You confirm in acceptance the property is not your sole or main residence and are not entering an assured tenancy.” Living Rent said the property was uninhabitable.

Mike and his flatmates found a flat on Gumtree and signed a lease with a similar clause, and had several issues during their four-month lease.

“Living in this flat was a continuous nightmare, from the very first contact with the landlord until now, while we’re still waiting for our deposit,” said Mike. “At no point was it mentioned that the contract would be a holiday let until after we had been pressured by the landlord to pay the deposit to secure the tenancy.”

John Blackwood, chief executive of the Scottish Association of Landlords (SAL), said: “SAL provides a helpline for members along with resources to ensure landlords are compliant with the law and we advise any tenant who has erroneously signed a holiday let agreement to contact Citizens Advice Scotland who can help them resolve their situation.”

The National tried to contact EHPL, but the man who answered our call refused to confirm if it was the company’s number and hung up.