THE WHOLE of Edinburgh could become a short-term lets control area – leading the way for Airbnb properties to potentially be banned in tenements if they are deemed inappropriate through planning rules.
Scottish Government regulations agreed before the Holyrood election has given councils the ability to bring forward plans to become a control area.
The plans were agreed by MSPs despite fears raised that SNP ministers can essentially veto any plans drawn up by local authorities.
Edinburgh City Council has brought forward draft plans for all residential properties throughout the city, which are not an owner’s principle home, that are being used as short-term let, would need change of use planning permission in order to operate.
Currently, very few short-term let properties apply for planning permission in Edinburgh. Those that do are often rejected in shared stairs, meaning planning laws could be used to essentially outlaw tenement flats from operating as Airbnb-style short-term lets.
But homes that have been changed to secondary letting through planning laws and have been used as a short-term let for more than 10 years before the control area is rolled out, and has not faced any enforcement action, will be allowed to continue without planning permission.
For most people, renting out a room in your house or letting your property whilst on holiday would also still be allowed if Edinburgh became a short-term let control zone.
The council is launching a consultation on its plans and will need approval of SNP ministers.
Around a third of short-term let properties in Scotland are in Edinburgh. Currently, in addition to planning applications made for short-term lets, to establish whether or not planning permission is required for properties where this is disputed, the council’s enforcement team looks at each case individually, which is a very lengthy and time-consuming process.
Neil Gardiner, the council’s planning convener, said: “Last year we welcomed that our call for new Scottish Government legislation to control short-term lets was successful. “If the proposals are approved by the planning committee, we’ll be in a position where we can push forward and ask our residents, the industry and other interested groups, for their views on making the whole of Edinburgh a short-term let control area.
“We’ll be looking carefully at this feedback before the proposal is finalised as the impact of short-term lets can be felt in communities across Edinburgh.”
He added: “If the Scottish Government approve the whole city as a short-term let control zone, we’ll be able to manage the number of short-term lets in the city as properties being let out in these areas would automatically require to have ‘change of use’ planning permission in place. “Combined with the proposed licensing regime due to be introduced next year, if approved, this step forward is in direct response to our hard work in pushing for the powers we know we need to deliver for our communities city-wide.”