Call for urgent change as short-term lets regulations hit Edinburgh Festivals

Call for urgent change as short-term lets regulations hit Edinburgh Festivals

Concerns are mounting that Edinburgh will not be able to accommodate performers and visitors to its world-leading Festivals this summer due to the impact of short-term let regulations.

Household names like comedian Jason Manford and TV personality Gail Porter have recently taken to social media to express their frustration at the spiralling cost of accommodation during the Festivals in August.

According to the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers (ASSC), the key issue is supply: the drop in the number of beds due to onerous licensing and planning short-term let restrictions has exacerbated issues, pushing up costs.

The latest figures from the City of Edinburgh Council, as of 11th April 2024, shows just 105 secondary lets – which are largely professional self-catering businesses – have been granted a full licence.

The ASSC said around 1,800 self-catering units have applied for a non-refundable one-year licence, where some can be charged over £5,000, and many simply are not advertising for August as they have no clarity as to whether their application will be approved.

The organisation has repeatedly called for the government to build more housing and tackle empty homes rather than shutting down indigenous self-catering businesses which will only decimate local livelihoods for no meaningful benefit.

The ASSC has offered short-term let policy recommendations as far back as 2019 to strike the right balance in the regulatory framework and protect Scotland’s £1bn self-catering industry and the thousands of jobs it supports in local communities.

Fiona Campbell, CEO of the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers, said: “This is a predictable mess. We consistently highlighted the dire consequences that would follow from a draconian approach to short-term let regulation and these forewarnings are becoming glaringly apparent. However, this may be the tip of the iceberg if yet more self-catering businesses close, with the difficulties faced this year being amplified in 2025.

“Short-term lets were scapegoated for all manner of ills and treated as a panacea for wider housing challenges despite the fact that they make up only 0.7% of Edinburgh’s total housing stock. The reduction in the availability of this type of accommodation – an essential part of the tourism sector – is driving up costs. The Council once said there were 12,000 STLs in the city but just 105 secondary lets have been granted a full licence.

“Edinburgh is renowned for its unique cultural offering but such bungled policymaking over short-term lets risks damaging its position as a place to visit and do business. A world-leading Festival city should be more than able to accommodate comedians yet it risks becoming a laughing stock of its own making.

“Even at the eleventh hour, industry stands ready to work with local and national government so we can fairly and effectively regulate the sector before irreversible damage is done.”

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