Edinburgh SNP plan for new short-term lets 'crackdown' ahead of council elections

SNP councillors in Edinburgh have pledged to bring holiday rental properties back to the residential market with only those with “exceptional circumstances”.

It comes after a report in 2020 found that only one in nearly 500 short-term property lets in Edinburgh has proper planning permission.

The pledge – which will form part of the Edinburgh SNP council election manifesto published next week – lays out both new and existing operators of short-term let properties will have to apply for official planning permission if they are to continue.

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Only those with “exceptional circumstances” will be excluded from this.

Edinburgh SNP has pledged to 'crack down' on short-term lets in the Capital ahead of the council election in May (Photo: Lisa Ferguson).Edinburgh SNP has pledged to 'crack down' on short-term lets in the Capital ahead of the council election in May (Photo: Lisa Ferguson).
Edinburgh SNP has pledged to 'crack down' on short-term lets in the Capital ahead of the council election in May (Photo: Lisa Ferguson).

Adam McVey, leader of the SNP on City of Edinburgh Council, said: “Housing is in high demand in Edinburgh because so many people want to live and work in our amazing city.

"We simply can’t go on with thousands of properties that were built as homes being run as hotels.

"We need to bring these residential homes back to being homes for residents so people in the city have affordable places to live.”

The SNP claims the first step of their “crackdown” is to complete the process of securing ‘control area’ status from the Scottish Government.

This designation means that all holiday rental properties must apply for and secure planning permission, including retrospectively. That will include conversions from a home to holiday let that have taken place in the last ten years.

The pledge comes as the party also promises to push ahead with tram extensions to the north and south of Edinburgh if they are returned to power in the local elections next month.

The SNP has also pledged to introduce a "tourist tax" in the Capital to raise revenue from visitors to help maintain public spaces, transport links and the cultural sector.

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SNP pledges to introduce tourist tax in Edinburgh if party wins council election
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The Edinburgh council leader said the concentration of holiday lets converted from flats has created a local shortage of housing and sent rents upward.

At the peak, over 10,000 Edinburgh properties were listed on internet platforms like AirBnB, creating a significant drain on the city’s housing stock.

A Homes First survey launched in January 2020 revealed that out of 477 commercial business properties identified, only one has planning consent.

The SNP plan will set out that conversion of housing into other uses will be treated the same way as demolition. Permission will be granted only where there is an “exceptional” case for it.

Holiday lets that do not involve a whole property conversion will be excluded and will continue as at present. This includes the letting out of spare rooms or temporary lets of a main residence.

Yet, opposition says the SNP is “railroading” plans without proper consultation with the industry.

Scottish Conservative Shadow Local Government and Housing Secretary Miles Briggs MSP said: “This looks like the SNP are about to railroad through yet further regulations on short-term lets, without consulting the industry.

“Everyone understands the pressures on the housing market in Edinburgh, but this will be a major blow for small businesses who are just trying to get back on their feet after the pandemic.

“This simply isn’t the way to fix these issues.

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“Local choice must be put at the heart of the short-term licensing scheme and SNP Ministers must urgently engage with the industry, rather than ignoring their concerns.”

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