Vast majority of short-term lets ‘unlawful’



Most whole property short-term lets advertised on sites like such as Airbnb and Booking.com may be unlawful, according to a survey by Scottish Green MSP Andy Wightman.

An online tracking tool was launched by Mr Wightman in January to chart the scale of short term lets in Scotland. Early results from the survey reveal that of the 339 commercial short-term lets recorded so far, only one has planning consent.

If these results were replicated across Scotland, Mr Wightman said that would suggest 99.7% of short terms lets in Scotland could be unlawful.

There are 480 listings for Edinburgh on the website of public agency VisitScotland. This new data would suggest the vast majority of those could also be unlawful.

The Lothians MSP, who has led on the issue, said: “This early picture from my Homes First site reveals the depressing truth of how out of control this sector is. All but one of the properties identified so far have no planning consent to be a short-term let. Any property that should have planning consent but does not is unlawful.

“While proposed new licensing powers are welcome, they will not be of much use if owners are so willing to flout planning laws. The Scottish Government’s commitment to regulation is further undermined by the fact that Visit Scotland, which has a strategic partnership with AirBnB, is actively promoting holiday accommodation that is unlawful despite encouraging visitors to book only licensed and regulated accommodation.

“Scottish Ministers should ask their own tourism agency to stop advertising unlawful businesses.”