One in three of Edinburgh short-term lets offered to NHS staff during pandemic

The Association of Scottish Self Caterers said Airbnb owners care for their community despite “doomsaying and ill-informed voices”.

AirBnB locks outside a block of flats in Edinburgh
AirBnB locks outside a block of flats in Edinburgh

Nearly one in three short-term let operators in Edinburgh hosted NHS and other key worker staff during the lockdown, the Association of Scottish Self Caterers (ASSC) has claimed.

A survey by the trade group which represents the sector found that 30 per cent of the Capital’s short-term let and Airbnb hosts opened their doors to health service staff during the pandemic for free or at a heavily discounted rate.

The sector has been under fierce criticism within Edinburgh and those who live in shared stairwells and tenements with short-term let properties have raised concerns about the potential safety risk of having visitors in communal areas.

However, the ASSC said that the latest figures represented the “latest positive contribution” to society from the sector and was despite “misinformation and carping from the side-lines from those with a grudge against self-catering”.

ASSC’s chief ex Fiona Campbell, said the figures showed Edinburgh’s self-catering sector cares about the community despite “doomsaying and ill-informed voices”.

She said:“Edinburgh’s self-caterers, despite being derided by doomsaying and ill-informed voices, have shown that they care about their community.

“That nearly one in three respondents have welcomed our hardworking and dedicated NHS staff into their properties for free at this trying time is a testament to their community spirit, social conscience, and commitment to others.

“Our entire sector joins with the rest of Scotland to say a clear, emphatic, and heartfelt thank you to our NHS and we hope that, once life returns to normal, that we will have the chance to welcome them back for the breaks that they rightly deserve.”

Two weeks, the Evening News reported on a major report from Scottish Green MSP Andy Wightman, a long-time campaigner against the use of residential flats and houses as short term lets.

The report claimed just one in 500 short-term lets have the correct planning permission, although there is no clear cut definition as to when planning permission is required for a holiday let.

It came after residents raised their concerns over the safety of reopening tenement short-term lets during the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly around the cleaning of communal areas.

The Scottish Government has issued guidance stating that communal areas should be cleaned by short-term let operators to help mitigate potential spread of Covid-19.

An Airbnb spokesperson moved to reassure residents following the concerns.

They said: "Airbnb has partnered with global experts and organisations to set new industry leading cleaning standards for hosts, including guidance from the EU and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Our measures have been awarded a Safe Travels seal by the World Trade and Tourism Council and will help hosts prioritise public health as they welcome guests back, reigniting both their livelihoods and the Scottish economy."

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