Concerns raised over huge rise in Airbnb properties across Scotland

The number of Airbnb properties rose by more than 80 per cent in parts of Scotland in a year amid concerns that growing numbers of holiday rentals are worsening housing shortages.

Documents released by the Scottish Government under Freedom of Information legislation show there were 3,100 listings in the Highlands in July 2017 – an 81 per cent increase on the previous year.

Edinburgh had 9,000 listings – an increase of 43 per cent in 12 months – while there was a 45 per cent jump in Glasgow to 2,200.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The figures emerged after media co-operative The Ferret revealed the US web giant had been lobbying the Scottish Government using Edinburgh-based PR firm Halogen.

There is growing concern over the impact of holiday lets, particularly in Edinburghs city centre, where there is one Airbnb listing for every 11 residents. Pic: Shutterstock

There is growing concern over the impact of holiday lets, particularly in Edinburgh’s city centre, where there is one Airbnb listing for every 11 residents.

Airbnb said the number of listings in an area was not necessarily an indication of impact on “long-term housing”, with few of the listings likely to be available all year round.

Among the documents released by the government is a letter sent to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in November in which Airbnb complained of “overly restrictive” legislation.

It was sent after MSPs backed an amendment from Green MSP Andy Wightman to the Planning (Scotland) Bill that will make it more difficult for homeowners to lease out their properties as holiday lets.

Andy Wightman's amendment made it harder for homeowners to rent out their residences

Last month Shelter Scotland said it was concerned an increase in short-term lets was “exacerbating the existing housing crisis”.

Scottish Liberal Democrat housing spokeswoman Caron Lindsay said: “There is a balance to be struck between enabling people visiting an area to find accommodation and the need to ensure those same communities are sustainable.

“There is a case for new, proportionate regulation where whole properties are converted into short-term holiday lets. It isn’t fair that, in some areas, the steep rise and high concentration of these lets is hollowing out communities and pricing local people out of the market for a warm, secure home.”

An Airbnb spokeswoman said: “Airbnb has led talks to secure clear and modern home sharing rules that support local families since 2017.

“While we support clear rules, applying sweeping ­proposals designed for Edinburgh to all of Scotland would have a devastating impact on rural communities that rely on tourism to support their economies.

“Entire home listings on Airbnb represent less than 2.5 per cent of the available housing stock in Edinburgh and only 0.6 per cent across the rest of Scotland, with a typical Scottish host sharing their home for just four nights a month. We want to continue working with everyone on a better way forward.”