CONCERNS over holiday apartment owners renting out flats in a commuter suburb have sparked criticism of the Scottish Government’s housing policy.

At least two short-term let operators charge nearly £150 per night on Airbnb for flats in the new-build Dargavel scheme, beside Bishopton, Renfrewshire – where plans for 93 new council houses were scrapped last year.

Property owners boast of Dargavel's proximity to popular venues such as the Gleddoch hotel in Langbank, Mar Hall and the Ingliston Country Club in Bishopton, and major tourist attractions including Loch Lomond.

Some appear to be primarily used by people needing a place to stay while moving into new homes in Dargavel.

One owner told the Sunday National their properties filled a “need for somewhere for people to stay when visiting relatives, or when working nearby, or when they have sold their homes only to find out the builder won’t complete on time”.

But short-term lets remain controversial, with housing campaigners arguing that they take away homes from people who could live in them full-time.

'Housing emergency' 

THE revelation has sparked a call from the homelessness charity Shelter that the Scottish Government must declare a “housing emergency” and build more council houses.

Alison Watson (below), the charity’s director, said: “There’s no doubt that the rise of short-term lets is having an adverse impact on housing supply in parts of Scotland and contributing to runaway rents in the private sector.

The National: Alison-Watson-Shelter-Scotland

“While that should addressed, ultimately the only way to fix our broken housing system in the long term is for the Scottish Government to deliver more social homes.

“The new First Minister can demonstrate his commitment to fighting poverty by declaring a housing emergency and committing to the kind of urgent action needed to end it.”

'We need more affordable housing'  

IAN Hutchison, a director of Rossland Properties which operates in Dargavel, echoed calls for more housing.

He said: “Yes we do need more affordable housing. [Margaret] Thatcher sold off the stock we had and it wasn’t replenished. This is a government-created issue and they need to build more to solve it.

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“The houses built here were not built to alleviate the house crisis, yes it may help but it would be foolish to think that that’s the primary reason that the developers built them, and not for the profits generated and to continue their housebuilding operations.”

Hutchison said his company was not profitable and added that he had not received any government grants nor did he use help to buy to purchase the homes in his portfolio.

The National:

He also said he had paid the Additional Dwelling Supplement on both properties and was compliant with regulations requiring him to be registered as a short-term let landlord.

Hutchison added: “I used money that I had worked hard in my day job to earn and had saved over the last 20-plus years.”

Dargavel is only home to seven short-term lets, according to Hutchison, which he said accounted for just 0.28% of the 2500 homes built in the scheme so far.

'Landlords rob people of homes' 

BUT the tenants’ union Living Rent said short-term let operators in Dargavel were a “clear example of how the explosion of holiday lets has led to the loss of long-term homes for many would-be residents”.

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Bianca Lopez, chair of the union’s Glasgow branch, added: “For landlords to buy up homes that were built to alleviate the housing crisis and then turn them into unaffordable holiday lets is a clear demonstration that landlords do not provide homes, they rob tenants of affordable housing.

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“Our politicians need to implement much-needed short-term rent restrictions and to build social housing so that landlords can not deprive tenants of affordable homes.”

Iain McMillan, the leader of Renfrewshire council's Labour opposition, added: “It doesn't seem right. I know families who would love to live there but I suppose this practice does stop them.”

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McMillan earlier this year warned that Renfrewshire was “close” to a housing emergency and last year the council scrapped plans for 93 new social homes in Dargavel.

The council faced down opposition from Bishopton residents when the scheme was being built who argued it would put an intolerable strain on the village’s services.

In 2022, it was revealed that a new school for the scheme had been built too small to accommodate the number of pupils who lived in the area.

The Sunday National approached another firm marketing itself as Bishopton Holiday Rentals for comment.

The Scottish Government was approached for comment.