Scottish Government clampdown as number of Airbnb properties triples in three years

Share this article
Have your say

The Scottish Government are set to clampdown on the short-term let sector in Scotland following fresh statistics showing that almost one in five properties in Skye and one in six in the centre of Edinburgh are listed on Airbnb.

The results of the consultation add fuel to the calls for regulation of the short-term letting sector including a licencing regime and adequate enforcement to improve safety and reduce the impact on the housing market.

More than 1,000 people, businesses and companies took part in the independent report, alongside a bespoke data ‘scrape’ of Airbnb.

The number of Airbnb properties registered in Scotland has risen dramatically in the last three years. Picture: AFP

The number of Airbnb properties registered in Scotland has risen dramatically in the last three years. Picture: AFP

READ MORE: Airbnb to bring in Scottish registration system and landlord regulations

READ MORE: Thousands of Edinburgh’s Airbnb properties ‘potentially unlawful’

Those responding to the consultation said short-term lets are “feeding the beast” and making survival as businesses “extremely challenging”.

The number of Airbnbs in Scotland have tripled in less than three years from just over 10,000 to more than 32,000, the new Scottish Government figures show.

But more than half are concentrated in just two areas, Edinburgh and the Highlands.

The city centre of Edinburgh has the densest concentration of Airbnbs than anywhere else in Scotland, with more holiday lets per square kilometre than anywhere else and 8.5 per cent of all Airbnbs crammed into the city centre ward.

Figures also show that almost one in five houses on Skye are listed on Airbnb, a contrast to the 1.2 per cent average across Scotland.

Short-term lets have been accused of removing housing from the overall stock, with the survey showing that 36 per cent of Airbnb hosts that responded used to either live in or rent out their holiday lets.

The report also states that a quarter of all Airbnbs were bought by hosts specifically to let them out as holiday lets on an on-going basis.

In addition, more than 80 per cent of hosts said they let their homes for more than three months in a year, a claim Airbnb has denied in the past.

Alongside the impact on housing and residents, the report also highlighted negative impacts on affordability, communities and public services as well as over tourism.

However, local economic benefits from visitors and increased household income for short-term let hosts were listed as the two main positive impacts.

In both Skye and Edinburgh, the impacts are not limited to hosts and residents. One respondee, a business from Skye, said: ““Some local workers just cannot find accommodation. But despite it all we are still working through and still able to deliver the service, but it has been exceptionally challenging.”

One community respondee in Edinburgh added: “By March it is difficult to walk down the street. The Council is delighted by this; more tourists, but it’s ‘feeding the beast’. Tourism has become too much. It’s so crowded and expensive.”

Housing Minister, Kevin Stewart, said the responses to the consultation has shown support for regulation of the sector.

He said: “The responses to our consultation confirm support for new controls over short-term letting of residential properties in these problem areas.

“We will carefully consider the evidence before setting out our proposals later this year. In the meantime we will continue to work with local authorities to support them to balance the unique needs of their communities with wider economic and tourism interests.”

Scottish Green housing and communities spokesman, Andy Wightman, added: “The summary of responses to the Scottish Government’s consultation published today does not provide any new information.

“I am pleased that the residents who responded to the consultation were broadly agreed that more regulation is needed and that those who own these properties should be held accountable, but the SNP teamed up with the Tories and yielded to industry lobbyists in the face of my proposals. Now is the time for the Scottish Government to make some serious progress on this issue.”

A spokesperson for Airbnb said: "Airbnb is built on the principles of making communities stronger and spreading tourism benefits to local families and businesses. While guests using Airbnb account for just 3% of visitors to Scotland, our community boosted the Scottish economy by over £693 million last year alone, generating new sustainable revenue streams that - unlike other forms of tourism - stay with the communities where guests stay.

"We want to be good partners to Scotland, which is why we recently announced backing for a simple, free and online registration system in communities that need it, extending planning requirements to professional lets hosting over 140 nights per year, and support for a tourism levy for communities that want it. Airbnb has long led the way on supporting home sharing rules in Scotland and we want to continue that collaboration, based on our experience of working with more than 500 governments across the world."