Airbnb landlords in Edinburgh abandon short-term lettings due to impending restrictions
An increasing amount of Airbnb owners are moving away from short-term letting in favour of traditional residential letting as the sector anticipates heightened regulations.
The Times reported that the increase in popularity of Airbnb in cities such as Edinburgh has been blamed for driving property prices up, leading to a lack of affordable housing in the city, with landlords monopolising on the lucrative short-term let market.
However, estate agents representing both sectors have revealed that property owners in some of Edinburgh’s most sought-after and tourist-friendly locations are now looking for permanent tenants.
The Scottish Government has been discussing whether it should regulate short-term lets after calls have been made for clearly defined rules within the sector.
John Boyle, director of research and strategy at the estate agency, Rettie and Co, which manages both long-term and short-term lets for landlords, said that fewer landlords were opting for Airbnb in the first place.
He said: “Short-term letting is probably not going to be as profitable and the government is looking at creating a level playing field — although that in itself is not an easy thing to do. It’s a fine balance. If you get the regulation wrong you damage the sector and that has implications for your tourism industry, and places like Edinburgh certainly enjoy positive effects from that. So it’s about regulating the sector so we don’t shut it down altogether but also don’t see a massive outflow from private residential tenancies, as cities like Edinburgh and Glasgow don’t have enough housing to pick up the slack.”
A landlord who asked to remain anonymous removed his flat from Airbnb after less than a year. He said: “The money difference between a short-term let and a long-term let isn’t really that much considering the amount of work that goes into it. I use the analogy that it’s kind of like a rental car versus your own car. When you rent a car you don’t actually really care about the car that much so you don’t treat it as well. Whereas if it’s a person’s home they treat it much better.”
Another landlord said that the pressure from neighbours who were unhappy with his decision to turn his flat into a holiday let made him think twice about his use of Airbnb.
Rob Trotter, associate director at the lettings agency DJ Alexander, said: “In the last few months we’ve started seeing a flow of properties being removed from the short-term rental market and rented instead to long-term, residential tenants. Short-term landlords are coming to us, increasingly frustrated by the rising challenges they face operating within this now overcrowded market.”
Owners of flats in central locations in Edinburgh, including highly desirable homes in the New Town, are among those abandoning the holiday sector.
Mr Trotter said: “These are properties which you would expect should do really well on the holiday market.”