Greens call for regulation to halt rise of holiday lets in Edinburgh city centre

Edinburgh stockAround half of the homes in Edinburgh city centre will be holidays lets by 2050 if current trends continue, the Scottish Green Party has suggested.

Concerns have been raised that a sharp rise in holiday lets in the capital is making it more difficult for people to find somewhere to live.

But some say the trend is boosting the local economy while home-owners have complained they can only afford to live in the area if they rent out their property at peak holiday times.

The Scottish Green Party estimates that if current trends continue, around half the homes in the EH1 postcode will be holiday lets by 2050.

MSP Andy Wightman says councils need more power to control how properties listed as residential are used.

He told the BBC: “We’re calling for the city council to be able to have the choice and to be able to make decisions about how residential property is used – and that means introducing new use-class orders in the planning system.

“So for example, if you want to change your flat into a shop, you have to apply for planning consent. If you want to change your flat to a holiday home, you don’t. We want that to be a requirement so that the city council can come to a view on how it wants to see residential property used.”

Estate agents are worried about losing homes from the long-term rental market.

Rob Trotter from DJ Alexander has noticed significant changes since the rise of short term lets.

He said: “We’re certainly seeing rental values increasing, I would say, at an unsustainable level and property values in the city centre are increasing.

“If you’re trying to move to Edinburgh to start a job and you can’t afford to live in the city centre or you can’t find a flat, that’s difficult for businesses.”

Cities like London, Paris and Berlin have already introduced regulations on short-term lets.

Michael Allan, of property management firm BnBBuddy, said the short term lets is good for the local economy as more people can afford to travel to the capital.

But he agrees there is room for more regulation.

“All the negatives can be easily solved by the council coming to companies like us, taking our insight, taking advice from long term rental companies to combine to create good policy that fits Edinburgh.

“It doesn’t copy what’s happening in London or Manchester because they are different cities with different problems. It’s about concentrating on the local issues,” he added.