Tenants’ union to protest against Edinburgh letting agent offering ‘sham’ holiday lets
Protestors will tomorrow demonstrate outside the premises of an Edinburgh letting agent accused of exploiting tenants by offering “sham holiday lets”.
The Living Rent tenants’ union has claimed that A Flat in Town is offering holiday lets of up to five months in order to evade its responsibilities as a landlord.
In 2016, the Scottish Government replaced the previous so-called “short-assured” tenancies with indefinite rental contracts in an effort to grant tenants much more security and make it harder for landlords to evict their renters. However, Living Rent said it has seen evidence of landlords and letting agents avoiding this regulation by classing their properties as “holiday lets”.
A report published by the tenants’ union earlier this month highlighted three cases where tenants’ rights were being undermined by the loophole.
According to the report: “These holiday let leases afford tenants almost none of the protections tenants would be guaranteed under Short-Assured Tenancies or Scottish Private Residential Tenancies; neither landlords nor agencies operating on their behalf need to register; properties are exempt from HMO licensing; tenants aren’t entitled to third-party protection of their deposits; the properties are not subject to the same standards in terms of fire safety and repairs; and it is significantly easier to evict someone from a holiday let.”
Emma McGillivray, a member of Living Rent taking part in the protest, said: “A Flat In Town need to drop this sham immediately. The new, better contracts were hard won by tenants up and down Scotland, demanding better rights and better protections from eviction, and it is appalling for this letting agency to simply decide none of that applies to them.
“If they do not drop these blatantly illegal leases, we are leaving all options on the table - including taking legal action against A Flat In Town and any landlords operating a so-called ‘holiday let’ through them.”