Airbnb hosts in Edinburgh must obtain planning permission to rent out their homes for summer festivals

Airbnb hosts in Edinburgh must obtain planning permission to rent out their homes for summer festivals

Edinburgh becomes Scotland's first short-term lets-control zone - Getty

Edinburgh becomes Scotland’s first short-term lets-control zone – Getty

Nicola Sturgeon’s government has been accused of undermining the success of Edinburgh’s festivals by approving plans to force the city’s Airbnb owners to apply for planning permission.

The SNP administration gave its blessing to proposals put forward by local council for the whole city to become Scotland’s first short-term rent control zone.

This means that property owners who rent out a residential property that is not their primary residence for a short period of time must apply for a ‘change of use’ permit during the planning process.

The move aims to crack down on Airbnb-style accommodation amid fears that too many homes will be lost to the “holiday market”.

Around a third of all short-term rentals in Scotland are in Edinburgh, and council leaders want to introduce a city-wide cap on the number of apartments that have planning permission under the new scheme.

Time of announcement “ironic”

But industry groups attacked the “absolutely devastating” change, warning that it would make it harder for performers and visitors to Edinburgh’s summer festivals to find accommodation.

The city’s population is expected to double to nearly a million people this month as tourists return for the Edinburgh Fringe, International Festival and International Book Festival for the first time since the pandemic.

Even if the change will not be implemented until next month after the festivals end in 2022, it is feared that this will lead to an acute shortage of rooms next August.

Fiona Campbell, Chief Executive of the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers, said: “Self-catering accommodation has had a presence in Edinburgh for decades and provides an important source of alternative accommodation at major events.

“It is therefore somewhat ironic that this news comes in the same week that many festival performers and visitors will be arriving in the city.”

The latest crackdown comes after SNP ministers rolled out a new licensing regime for short-term rental owners. New operators have until October 1st to obtain a license, while existing ones have until April 1st next year.

Shona Robison, SNP Housing Secretary said: “I recognize the important role that short-term rentals play as a source of flexible and needs-based accommodation for tourists and workers, bringing many benefits to hosts, visitors and our economy.

“However, we know that in certain areas, particularly tourist hotspots, high levels of rentals can cause problems for neighbors and make it difficult for people to find a home to live in.”

Cammy Day, the leader of the city council, said: “We will now move forward with the implementation of the changes and the next step should be to see whether we can also put a cap on the number.”

An Airbnb spokesman said: “The vast majority of hosts in Scotland are regular people who occasionally rent a house to increase their income.

“Nearly four in ten say the extra income helps them pay for the rising cost of living. We want to be a good partner with the authorities and work on rules that support local families and protect local communities.”

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