TORMENTED neighbours whose campaign against “party flats” sparked a change in the law have told how their weekends are still blighted with noise and intimidation from rowdy revellers.
Despite introducing beefed-up punishment for negligent landlords, residents of Grove Street in Haymarket – dubbed the “noisiest party street in Edinburgh” – claim they continue to live in a perpetual cycle of bedlam with 20-strong stag and hen parties descending on the quiet neighbourhood every Friday evening. They spoke of threats from drunk yobs, deafening singing, vomiting and loutish behaviour almost every week and say their quality of life has been eroded by the £600-a-night lets to huge parties that disturb much of the street.
In January 2011, the residents claimed victory after new legislation was introduced to crack down on party flats amid a change in the law to punish landlords leasing out the troubled flats. Despite two anti-social behaviour notices being filed against property owners, though, they say life has got worse not better.
Rob Panton, 42, and his girlfriend have shared a stairwell with one notorious party flat since 2009 and are now searching for somewhere else to live.
“Our quality of life has been destroyed and we are having to move out because of the anxiety and stress of it all,” he said. “We can’t guarantee a good night’s sleep any night of the week. They dance around, sing and have impromptu parties out in the street.
“I have been physically threatened on a number of occasions with big groups of guys in the stairwell.
“It feels like nothing has changed and these landlords are just operating with impunity. I’d like to see these people prosecuted for antisocial behaviour and compensating us for all the stress and worry we have gone through for four years.”
A city taskforce has been set up to deal with excessive rowdiness and party flats while changes to planning laws mean landlords face new restrictions when letting out properties to stag and hen parties.
In March, the News told how landlords of “party flats” would be forced to apply for planning permission in a bid to crackdown on weekend revellers. Under new guidelines, the council will not normally grant permission in the cases likely to have the most serious adverse impact on neighbours. It is understood there are 14 so-called “party flats” in the Capital.
Grove Street resident Liz Haggard, who helped campaign against party flats, said: “In legal terms this should not be happening and we would like to see all people who have their homes in flats protected from short-stay lets.”
Councillor Cammy Day, community safety leader, said: “It’s unacceptable that people can’t live in peace and quiet in their own community whilst at the same time promoting Edinburgh as a destination for people to come to but landlords have to do that responsibly.
“The taskforce that has been pulled together has been doing good work. We have Asbos taken out against two of the worse properties and that’s not always stopped them doing it but now that will be in the hands of the courts to decide what to do about that.”