Edinburgh agrees new powers to regulate short-term lets 

The council expects the changes will give 'greater control' over where short-term lets are situated.

Edinburgh agrees new powers to regulate short-term lets  iStock

Councillors in Edinburgh have agreed to implement new powers to regulate short-term lets.

Local authorities across Scotland are required to establish short-term lets licensing by October 1, after MSPs voted for a change in the law earlier this year.

The City of Edinburgh Council campaigned for the changes to help minimise the impact of anti-social behaviour caused by a rise in the number of short-term lets in the capital.

Among mandatory conditions under the government scheme are safety checks being carried out and a maximum occupancy level being put in place.

Those letting a room or rooms within their own home temporary licences will be available to give first time hosts the flexibility and opportunity to try out short-term letting before a full licence application is made.

During periods of high pressure on accommodation in Edinburgh, such as during summer festivals and major sporting events, temporary exemptions can be made for all short-term lets for up to six weeks in any 12 month period.

The changes were agreed by the council’s Regulatory Committee on Thursday.

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Councillor Neil Ross, committee convener, explained that the new licensing scheme will give the council “greater control” over the location of short-term lets.

“We’ve campaigned for years for these new powers and today’s decision to implement the new licensing system in the capital is great news for our local communities as well as the visitors who come to Edinburgh each year,” he said.

“Around a third of all short-term lets are here in Edinburgh and the new licensing scheme will give us greater control over where short-term lets are situated.

“Issues of safety and anti-social behaviour have been having a detrimental effect on our residents so I’m pleased to see the new scheme will make sure new licence holders meet the right safety requirements and occupancy levels and that they will have obtain the correct planning permission as a condition of their licence.”

Ross added that applicants will not be given a licence in tenements or for shared door properties unless there is a “good reason” for an exemption.

He said: “I’m pleased that as well as introducing the conditions set by the Scottish Government, we’ve had the flexibility under the new legislation to introduce our own conditions too.

“Concerns around the management of secondary letting came up time and again during our consultations and we’ve recognised that in Edinburgh, unless there’s a good reason for an exemption, applicants won’t be given a licence in tenements and shared door properties.”

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Fiona Campbell, chief executive of the Association of Scotland’s self-caterers, suggested that the plans agreed amount to “nothing less than a de-facto ban” on secondary letting.

“Edinburgh Council’s plans are a hammer blow for the tourism industry in the nation’s capital,” she said.

“We are extremely disappointed that business and tourism stakeholder group warnings have once again been overlooked, jeopardising the £70m economic boost self-catering provides to Edinburgh, as well as the hundreds of jobs and livelihoods this supports.”

“What has been agreed amounts to nothing less than a de-facto ban on secondary letting and we note the council’s recognition that aspects of their policy carry significant legal risk.

“This is despite the fact that self-catering properties have been a long-standing presence in the capital for decades and should not therefore be used as a convenient scapegoat for policy failures elsewhere.”

Campbell added: “There are also wider implications for Edinburgh, including for the future viability of the Festivals.

“We are presuming that the rebuttable presumption against the grant of a licence in stairwells, means that no home in a stairwell will be granted a temporary exemption either, in which case the Edinburgh Festival 2023 is in considerable trouble indeed.”