Greens publish legislation options to help councils tackle problem of short term lets

The introduction of a licensing scheme for homeowners who want to rent out their properties through websites like AirBnB is one of a number of legislative proposals available to help councils regulate the rapid growth of the short-term letting sector, according to the Scottish Greens.

Lothians MSP Andy Wightman, who is leading a Homes First campaign against the growth of short-term letting in Edinburgh, has today published examples of Statutory Instruments which the Scottish Government could bring forward under existing powers in order to provide councils with the tools they need to regulate according to their own priorities.

Research by the Homes First campaign has shown that the growth in commercial short-term lets is out of control in Edinburgh and of increasing concern across Scotland.

One option would be to create a new “Use Class Order” in the planning system so that local councils are able to classify residential property being used for commercial holidays or short breaks as short-term lets.

Another option would be to amend The Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 to give local councils the power to introduce a licensing scheme in order to regulate the operation of short-term lets.

A proposal for how such powers could be used has also been published showing how home-sharing and commercial activity could be regulated via a simple set of rules set out in a flowchart.

Andy Wightman, housing spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, said: “These examples of legislation are intended to generate wider discussion about a situation that is clearly causing distress in communities such as Edinburgh. Until now, there have been no substantial proposals beyond Airbnb suggesting it could set its own 156 day limit on its website.

“It seems reasonable to me that if someone rents out a room or their home for less than one month a year and it remains their main residence there should be no requirement for them to apply for either planning consent or a licence from the council but where there is a clear commercial activity, a change of use must be applied for and a licence sought.

“Scottish Ministers still don’t seem to get the difference between a person letting out a spare room or flat while they go away on holiday and an investor buying property for the intention of running a commercial business. Local councils need the power to regulate this sector to prevent further erosion of communities and loss of housing.”