Edinburgh Holiday Let License and the potential implications

Edinburgh Council are currently looking to introduce a new Holiday Let license and edlets.com believe that if the terms aren’t detailed correctly, then there is a real risk that this could destroy the above-board short term lets industry in Edinburgh altogether – contributing to the downfall of the various city-sized events and festivals that take place in Edinburgh including but not limited to the International & Fringe Festivals, the Edinburgh Marathon Festival, the Blues & Jazz Festival, the Book Festival, the Royal Highland Show and Edinburgh’s internationally renowned Hogmanay celebrations.

At present, visitors to Edinburgh such as performers & staff at the Fringe / International Festivals are already finding it difficult to afford accommodation for the duration of the their stay and will often stay in properties with 3 or more bedrooms that would be subject to HMO licensing rules for 6 month or longer tenancies. If Edinburgh Council do decide to create a similar ruling to HMO for holiday lets (no more than 2 unrelated people in 1 abode) then that prevents performers being able to afford to come to Edinburgh to perform as most of them do not want to stay in student halls (plus the halls are too expensive for most with limited availability), then this could mean an end to the Edinburgh Fringe & International Festivals as we know them due to the spiralling prices for accommodation, venue hire, technical & promotion cost.

A hard enforcement of the existing “90 day rule” could mean that people won’t make their accommodation available for short lets at all – if the regulations are too strict, expensive or require changing to commercial use then a large majority of homeowners will no longer rent out their properties out for short lets. This may be the desired intention but it will also cause loss of business for many Edinburgh companies and individuals involved in short lets and reduce the affordable short term accommodation that is available year round for visitors and residents.

The 90 day rule will not function across the board (only for purpose-built student accommodation) as long term tenancies don’t always fit in with the summer letting of flats and the new Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016 will make it hard to know if your tenants will want to leave and therefore make it impossible to secure short lets in advance – meaning that these student properties wouldn’t be available to performers either.

Please do be aware that whilst the focus tends to be on Festival lets, it is not just visitors to Edinburgh that depend on these low cost, short term accommodation options but also Erasmus students visiting for 1 term only, workers with short term contracts and Edinburgh people including families who need a place to stay because of floods or other significant damage to their properties, domestic work required large-scale renovation and also families re-locating either to or from Edinburgh plus individuals and families where their own property arrangements have fallen through or been rescheduled. These people all need short term accommodation (not a 6 month lease) and none of these people can afford or would want to stay in a hotel for the duration – if they were even able to with family and pets in tow!

Large, international (predominantly US-based) corporations like AirBnB have jeopardised the holiday letting industry by acting in an irresponsible manner (for instance having little in the way of customer service) and by competing on an uneven playing field (billion dollar funding investments) with the existing, smaller Edinburgh based businesses that are responsible and care about both the guest experience as well as the property owners and their residents.

AirBnB is no less expensive than other agencies in Edinburgh like Edlets (who do the same thing) but AirBnB don’t pay as much tax in the UK (according to The Guardian £300K was paid last year).   Therefore they are taking business away from local businesses without putting anything back into the community.

People in Edinburgh have always rented out private homes but Edinburgh Council should be looking to penalise the larger corporations rather than our well-run local businesses and work towards protecting Edinburgh’s tourist industry as a whole or else could well destroy the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Edinburgh Council should also be aware that imposing change of use or implementing unachievable licensing standards on properties could cause huge legal and financial issues for guests, owners, short term letting companies and ultimately Edinburgh Council themselves.

For instance – should Edinburgh Council require properties to change their usage to commercial by applying for planning permission and the house currently has guests booked in for the next couple of years, if the Council does not grant planning or that house no longer is permitted to let due to the new licensing regulations then what will happen to all these guests that are currently booked in? Will Edinburgh Council re-house them all and compensate the owners and letting companies for their losses? Or will it be down to the landlord and companies who may not be insured for loss of earnings and re-accommodating all the guests?   We can imagine it not only causing huge financial loss to the companies and individuals letting property out short term but it will also mean all these bookings will need to be cancelled and owners, guests and businesses will possibly lose out financially as legal battles start to arise.

It is our opinion that holiday let properties should have the same safety standards as long term lets however the HMO rules should not apply as they are not written with holiday lets in mind. If the council wants short-term landlords to pay a fee then they could register on a landlord’s register and pay a fee to do so. Nuisance flats and owners should be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, as far as the council mentioned there have only been approximately 6 short-term let property owners that have been causing a nuisance in Edinburgh.

Edinburgh Council should be listening to local Scottish businesses and individuals, not penalising them in favour of large hotel chains and US multi-nationals. Edinburgh is not Paris nor New York, it’s a small city and many of the people and the businesses in it depend on the visitors to Edinburgh.

According to Air DNA, Edinburgh only has 5147 active AirBnB listings, many of which will be private homes letting for just a few months a year and most of the others will be well run privately owned apartments. This is not a large scale problem in the city and the Council need to stop over regulating and wasting taxpayers money on issues that could be dealt with quickly and efficiently.

Can you imagine the cost so far of firstly the investigation and report to look into AirBnB flats in the city, then the meeting that was attended by many councillors, now the cost of developing a policy, then the cost of the council, environmental health and the fire department visiting every flat and writing a report, the time taken to approve or deny change of use and then the cost  of the council sitting outside flats of owners that may not have a license to police the comings and goings of potential guests, then taking landlords to court?

Also factor in the costs that the Council may be liable for when all the guests need re-accommodated not to mention the potential demise of the various Edinburgh Festivals and events! Guess who will be covering those bills? Not those companies based outwith Edinburgh, that’s for sure…

Read more at: http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/news/politics/council-plans-crackdown-on-airbnb-in-edinburgh-1-4409990#comments-area


“This is about protecting hotel profits, not protecting communities. Let the visitors decide whether they prefer to stay in anonymous commercial chains or in more personal self-catering accommodation.”

”Sounds to me like the hotel industry have been lobbying the council. Wouldn’t be surprised if half the comments on here are fake. No doubt that big business will win through again. Perhaps we can have, “Airbnb in association with CentreParcs”

”Perhaps the council should create more housing for people instead of penalising people doing what they want with their own properties for gain- and using nonsense reasons for doing so.”

”Why talk of new schemes when there is already a scheme called the Scottish Landlords Association. Why ensure all owners meet HMO standards when most are 1 and 2 bedroom apartments. There are practically no council staff in very important areas yet they will divert resources to this if they smell another money making opportunity. Let’s face it the council just want their cut.”

”If someone has registered with the council as a ‘Landlord’ against a specific property, testifying that the registered property is up to the required statutory standards, then surely this should be enough. Am I wrong?”

”Edinburgh council reacts to air bnb growth by introducing regulation at the request of student accomodation owners !!”