Stockbridge Colonies residents demand restrictions on holiday lets

The Stockbridge Colonies in Edinburgh, built by a workers group in the 1860s. Picture: Alistair Linford
The Stockbridge Colonies in Edinburgh, built by a workers group in the 1860s. Picture: Alistair Linford
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The growing Airbnb trend is facing a further backlash as another campaign group from one of Edinburgh’s most historic communities has issued calls for the number of holiday lets in the capital to be curbed.

Residents in the Stockbridge Colonies, which were built in the 1860s as affordable homes for working families, say the increasing number of people letting out their homes on a short-term basis is affecting their community.

The city council earlier this year mooted plans to legislate against homeowners who list a property for more than 90 days, but so far no such legislation has been passed.

A move to curb Airbnb lets is the latest backlash against the “sharing economy”, which also includes Uber, which last month had its licence revoked in London. Other European cities have already placed restrictions on short-term holiday lets.

A spokesperson for the Sustainable Communities Stockbridge group, which is to hold a community meeting on 6 November, said: “A transient visiting population makes it harder for all of us to maintain close and supportive relationships with neighbours; the mutuality and trust that have characterised the Colonies since their foundation is under threat.”

The spokesperson added: “Residents are concerned by noise and nuisance; the capacity of our small houses and streets to cope with uncertain numbers of visitors is stretched; each flat that is removed from the stock of permanent housing by being turned into a short-term letting business represents a lost potential relationship with a neighbour and contributes to the difficulties experienced by those hoping to secure long-term accommodation.”

The Colonies were built by the Edinburgh Co-operative Building Company, a consortium of workers who wanted to build affordable homes that felt like houses, each with a front door and small garden.

The problem has previously been raised by communities in other areas of Edinburgh, including the Old Town.

The Scottish Government said earlier this year that a panel was looking at the issue and would report to ministers by the end of the year.

A spokeswoman said: “Peer-to-peer accommodation, which forms part of the short-term rental market, is one of the areas being considered by the Scottish Expert Advisory Panel on the Collaborative Economy.”

A year ago, Airbnb put a 90-day restriction on properties listed on its site in London which were not registered with the council.

Meanwhile, other countries have already cracked down on the trend. Law makers in Amsterdam recently prohibited home owners from renting out their property for more than 90 days in a year. In Berlin, anyone renting out more than half of their home for less than two months without a permit risks an £85,000 fine, while in San Francisco Airbnb hosts who do not register with the city authorities can be fined.

A spokeswoman for Edinburgh Council said: “We have written to the Scottish Government about this issue and they have advised us that they have an expert panel looking at it.

“They will make recommendations and we look forward to this.”

A spokeswoman for Airbnb, which has hosted a million visits in Scotland over the past year, said: “The overwhelming majority of hosts and guests on Airbnb are good neighbours and respectful travellers. Airbnb guests in Scotland spent more than £1 million per day last year, generating a much needed boost for local residents and businesses.”