There has been an increasing number of calls of late for restrictions to be imposed in relation to the letting of properties on a short term basis, and in particular via Airbnb. Complaints have been made from owner occupiers, particularly in common stairs, in relation to noise levels, people coming and going from properties at all hours of the day and night, excess rubbish and general anti-social and disruptive behaviour.
Recently, a group of landlords who were letting their properties via Airbnb were found by the City of Edinburgh Council’s Planning Department to be operating their property in breach of planning guidelines and were issued with an Enforcement Notice to cease letting on that basis. The Council carried out an investigation in relation to complaints about three flats in particular and found that the flats were being rented out for more than 200 nights per year to Airbnb customers. Neighbours had complained about disturbance from the visitors to the flats. The Council found that due to the fact the property was being rented out under Airbnb for more than 200 days per year that it was in fact being used as a commercial property rather than a residential property and thus the owners required to seek planning permission for a change of use. The owners appealed to the Scottish Government against the Council’s decision, however the Scottish Government’s Reporter upheld the Council’s decision and ruled that the owners must cease using the properties in this manner. The Reporter found that there had been a material change of use.
The City of Edinburgh Council has confirmed in recent months that they are concerned about the increasing popularity of short-term letting in the city and the implications this has for housing availability, and erosion of communities. Short term holiday letting, such as Airbnb, is relatively unregulated and it will be interesting to see how the City of Edinburgh Council (and other Local Authorities) progress in dealing with such letting as the popularity in short term lettings continues to rise. It may be that in time, there is a licensing/regulatory regime put in place to ensure that the property meets safety standards, that the owners of the property are “fit and proper” (a test which registered landlords in the private rented sector currently have to meet) and to restrict any negative impact on neighbouring proprietors.
If you are currently renting out your property on a short term let basis or are considering doing so and wish to discuss the legal implications of same, please do not hesitate to contact our Property Solicitors, who would be happy to advise further.
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