EDINBURGH’s council leader has hit back at claims that a new licensing scheme would lead to an 80% drop in short-term lets in Scotland’s capital.

Cammy Day – a Labour councillor for Forth – said they have “no intention” of reducing the number of short-term lets by 80%, adding: “Nor do we expect it to happen”.

It comes after a report was prepared for the council’s policy and sustainability committee on how a transient visitor levy (or tourist tax) could operate in Edinburgh.

Details of the council paper were posted on Twitter by Tory councillor Iain Whyte, who highlighted a passage talking about the potential impact of new licensing and regulations coming into force in September.

The passage state there is “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”.

But after this 80% reduction claim became widely reported, Day hit back by saying it is “likely to be much lower”.

He said: “This figure was included in a report on how a visitor levy could operate and the projected income it could bring to the city – specifically to ensure we don’t overestimate this.

“The reduction is likely to be much lower once you take account of double counting, with many listings appearing on multiple accommodation registers.

“More generally, we remain absolutely committed to ensuring the whole city benefits from our thriving visitor economy but it has to be managed and it has to be sustainable – and I continue to believe that fair and effective STL controls would be an important step in the right direction.”

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It comes in the wake of concerns from the owners of short-term, rental properties, such as those on Airbnb, that the upcoming licensing and regulation changes are an “act of self-sabotage on their businesses and livelihoods”.

The Scottish Government’s new licensing scheme requires hosts of these properties to display energy performance ratings on listings, have adequate buildings and public liability insurance, as well as various fire and gas safety precautions.

Businesses have to register by October 1 to ensure they can continue trading, with housing minister Paul McLennan having said previously it is “important that there is appropriate regulation in place to ensure the safety of guests”.

But, as of August 7, only a reported 245 licence applications had been submitted to the City of Edinburgh Council out of the 12,000 estimated properties currently used for short-term lets.

Fiona Campbell, chief executive of the Association of Scottish Self-Caterers (ASSC), said: “The Scottish Government is urging short-term lets operators to rush to inflict an act of self-sabotage on their businesses and livelihoods.

“In the meantime, these same operators are urgently addressing their need to cover rising living costs and keep their businesses afloat.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “All councils are working through the increasing number of short-term let hosts applying for a licence by 1 October. To date, no short-term let licence applications have been refused in Edinburgh and as long as an application has been received by the deadline, hosts can continue to trade after that date.

“Good quality standards are at the heart of regulating the short-term let sector, as well as providing assurance to visitors and guests staying in Scotland.

“Many hosts will already be meeting licensing conditions as a matter of compliance with existing law or best practice. As well as ensuring short-term lets have to meet consistent standards, the licensing scheme will also provide accurate numbers of such lets for the first time.

“Edinburgh City Council has adjusted its short-term let policies to take account of a recent Judicial Review which required some aspects to be amended, and is accepting and processing more applications on a daily basis.”