As one of the top destinations in the world, it is clear there is a strong requirement for short term and holiday lets in the city. There are more online booking sites to help visitors seek accommodation, such as AirBnB, Booking.com and short let focused businesses based in the city. This is all very positive in driving tourism, trade and the overall vibrancy in the city.
Edinburgh Airport continues to grow, setting a new record for amount of passengers in 2018, at over 14.3 million (up 6.5% on the previous year). There is improved transport and infrastructure. There are high quality shops, restaurants and historical attractions all with in a short space in the heart of a small city. More world class hotels are being built to compliment the 5 star hotels that exist, proving that the city is indeed an ideal place to visit.
However, all this does come at a cost for us Edinbuggers. Residents of the city are generally the ones that are most affected by all this. Tourism doesn’t really generate extra income for the average professional or student in the city, instead creates more traffic and queues. Restaurants become full and bars overcrowded. The Festival brings the city centre to a standstill as the population almost doubles, where number of ticket sales are only outdone by the World Cup and the Olympics. (Not ideal for us property agents dashing from one viewing to another.) The busy, bustily frantic nature of the city becomes too much for some.
More long-term property stock has been given up to the holiday let market recently, with the number of AirBnB listings sitting at just shy of 12,000*. Data suggests that the amount of AirBnB only stock has tripled in the last 3 years. The amount of key safe boxes nailed to stair doorways and old iron fencing is increasingly noticeable. The ease and lucrative nature of the site, where one can let our just a room as well as an entire house, means it is a no brainer for some.
The so called party flats, catered for stag and hen groups, are becoming more prominent, where 5 singles beds are shoved in a room and groups of 20 + people are only paying £20 each, cause great concern and disturbance for neighbours. Health and Safety in some properties are not up to scratch compared with long term let properties and the risk for owner and guest becomes greater when the insurance policy is not fully covered.
What can and what will change? There are plans to bring in legislation for “hosts” to meet fit and proper person requirements as well as introducing the need for planning permission if letting out on a short term/holiday let basis for more than 45 days. Some cities cap the amount of short let properties available. Health and safety requirements, such as gas safety and adequate fire detection should be introduced. Finally, suitability of property and location can also be considered. The proposals are about local council discretion, but motions are with Scottish Government and we eagerly await the final outcomes.
Why do we need these changes? And why do we need them now? The largest impact is on housing stock. The more properties that investors are using for holiday lets, the less there are for first time buyers and long term renters, squeezing the rental market and pushing prices up. Edinburgh’s growing population and fewer hose sales is already impacting the rental market in pushing prices up. Further impacts are on local residents, where neighbouring properties create anti-social behaviour, uncertainty and uncontrolled visitors.
Not every holiday let property creates noise, havoc and distress for residents, though. We also have a requirement for holiday lets, given hotels are full and more and more tourists are coming to one of the world’s best cities. However, it needs to be controlled and that is the bottom line. If we can get a balance for short lets and long lets, as well as satisfactory level of compliance and control, then the city can work in harmony with “hosts” and continue to thrive.
We look forward to updating you on outcomes here with legislative changes.