A PUBLIC consultation on plans to turn Edinburgh into a short-term let control area starts today.

Edinburgh Council is seeking views on whether the city should introduce new short-term let (STL) regulations that would mainly affect people who let out their homes or rooms though Airbnb – Edinburgh has the highest proportion of such STLs in Scotland.  

If approved after the public consultation by the council and the Scottish Government, the new powers would mean any residential properties which are not an owner’s principal home and which are being let as STLs in their totality would require approval of a "change of use" to a STL from Planning.

There has been considerable controversy over the significant number of STLs in Edinburgh, mainly let via Airbnb, with complaints that they are affecting affordable housing supply in the capital.

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In the period 2016-2019 there was a substantial rise in the number of both entire properties and rooms registered with Airbnb.

According to the council: “Relative to other areas in Scotland the number of Airbnb listings is high making the impact on the city disproportionate. In 2019, 31% of all Airbnb listings in Scotland were in the city of Edinburgh. The next greatest proportion was 19% in Highland.”

At the moment, in addition to planning applications made for STLs, to establish whether or not planning permission is required for properties where this is disputed, Edinburgh 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.

The National:

Generally renting out a room or rooms in your house or letting your property whilst on holiday would also still be allowed if Edinburgh became a STL control zone.

The Scottish Government is currently consulting on legislation to introduce a new licensing regime next year, which the council also called for, to 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.

The proposal is that all Scottish councils will have to adopt a STL licensing system by October 2022. In terms of the Government’s proposed new licensing regime, if Edinburgh becomes a control area it will be a mandatory condition of any licensing application to have made a planning application or to have planning permission already when providing accommodation that requires it.

Councillor Neil Gardiner, planning convener for the City of Edinburgh Council, said: “We’ve worked hard calling for greater controls for short term lets and so it’s great we’re now asking for your views on the whole city becoming a control area.

“This is a positive step forward as Edinburgh has almost a third of all STLs in Scotland and so we need to take action. They’re putting pressure on house prices and rents and taking houses out of supply as well as causing issues such as anti-social behaviour and the hollowing out of communities.

“We’re really keen to hear views from residents in all communities across the city and the industry and we’ll carefully consider all of the feedback you give us before the proposal is finalised as the impact of STLs can be felt in communities across Edinburgh.”

Councillor Maureen Child, planning vice-convener for the City of Edinburgh Council, said: “If we do proceed with this approach and it’s approved by the Scottish Government, we’ll be better able to manage the number of STLs in the city. Many properties being let out in a control area would automatically require to have ‘change of use’ planning permission in place and I’m pleased the Scottish Government is also proposing that when people apply for a licence we can ask for evidence of that.”

To have your say in the consultation visit www.edinburgh.gov.uk/stlcontrol