Trade body’s claims of no link between short-term lets and housing crisis refuted

Shelter Scotland has rejected claims from a self-catering trade body that there is no link between Scotland’s housing crisis and the short-term letting industry.

Trade body’s claims of no link between short-term lets and housing crisis refuted

Portree on the Isle of Skye

The Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers (ASSC) said its new report ‘Short-Term Letting and The Housing Crisis sets out robust statistical evidence that refutes recent claims that the short-term sector has led to a lack of available housing.

The ASSC said the report points out that there are almost five times as many empty homes in Scotland as there are self-catering units and shows that the two are unconnected.

According to the trade body, statistics showing how few Airbnb properties there are in Scotland and that they only account for 1% of the country’s housing stock, “cast further doubt” of the size and scale of their impact.

The ASSC said it hopes the new report will “confront one of the biggest misconceptions and reasons for scapegoating that the industry, which contributes £723m to Scotland’s economy each year, has faced in recent years”.

ASSC chief executive, Fiona Campbell, said: “Our industry has faced quite a bit of unfair hostility lately, and one of the main charges is that we’ve caused there to be a lack of housing available.

“It’s long past time to dispense with this convenient, and completely incorrect, scapegoating being pushed by those who should know better.

“With the publication of Short-Term Letting and The Housing Crisis, we hope that we can put this inaccurate and politically motivated argument to rest once and for all; and move on to finding workable solutions to Scotland’s housing challenges.”

Data for Short-Term Letting and The Housing Crisis was provided by the Scottish Assessors Association, Highlands & Western Islands Valuation Joint Board, Lothian Valuation Joint Board, Airbnb, the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership, SkyeConnect, and Frontline Consultants.

Housing and homelessness charity Shelter Scotland said that the conclusions drawn by the ASSC for the research do not appear to be supported by the evidence set out within the same report.

Graeme Brown, director Shelter Scotland, told Scottish Housing News: “Far from showing there is no impact the researchers properly highlight the specific problems facing Skye and Lochalsh amongst others.

“To suggest that the small number of short term lets across the whole of Scotland demonstrates that there is no problem is to whitewash the impact unregulated growth of Airbnb style letting is having on many of our communities. Of course, it does not affect every community equally but where it is a problem it is a big problem.”

He added: “Scotland is in the grip of a housing emergency which hits the poorest hardest but affects us all. Taking residential homes and turning them into holiday accommodation in tourism hotspots exacerbates the problem and it is patently ridiculous to suggest it is having no impact on housing supply.

“In some communities there is well-documented evidence that housing shortages make it hard for businesses, including those in the hospitality industry, to recruit workers so it isn’t even all good news for tourism. 

“The unregulated growth of this market is bad for communities. We strongly support the introduction of a new scheme for councils allowing them to take action that meets the needs of the local population.”

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