“WHEN opportunity knocks, I say open the door.
“That’s what I did a year ago by listing my spare room on Airbnb, the online short-term letting site.
“I’ve travelled over the years, backpacked and lived abroad, so I’d say I am well suited to sharing my space with like-minded travellers looking to visit our beautiful Capital on a budget.
“Since listing the spare room, my life has transformed beyond recognition.
“I was stressed from working two jobs, constantly worrying about money whilst suffering from sleep deprivation and neglecting my social and family life. I was exhausted. Airbnb offers me the opportunity to live a happier, more balanced lifestyle.
“I worry less about money and have the time and resources to travel and spend time with friends and family.
“I have a cleaner, a woman from Dalkeith who went into business, like so many others, having spotted an opportunity. She has put together a team and she comes in when I’m at work to make the place ready.
“Others have been lifted away from the breadline and are sleeping easier thanks to the extra income, now enjoying the little things taken for granted by so many – a visit to the coffee shop, a trip to the cinema or a nice meal at a local restaurant.
“Despite all the benefits, Airbnb has come under fire for the impact it’s having on the community along with a lack of affordable housing.
“Airbnb’s offering has taken Edinburgh City Council by surprise given the blistering pace at which rooms and apartments are being snapped up online and enjoyed by thousands of additional visitors to the city. I read with dismay that entrepreneurs have been labelled ‘property barons’. There are plans to cap the number of properties listed online, along with a limit to the number of nights a host can list their space.
“At a time when hotel chains are complaining about a lack of capacity with new outlets springing up at a relentless pace on every gap site made available, we’re asked to believe that Airbnb is responsible for the housing shortage.
“However, opportunity knocks. We must reduce our dependency on hotels and encourage our council to concentrate on building new homes.
“In turn, residents may choose to invite guests to stay, benefiting directly from a new stream of income, keeping money in the pockets of locals and not big business whose profits line the coffers of wealthy investors, helping to lift people away from the breadline and all the while positively impacting the city’s economy.”