Campaign for reform of Short Term Lets (including Airbnb)
As the MP for much of Edinburgh City Centre, I have been very aware of the impact on local communities of high volumes of housing stock being used for short term lettings. In my time as an MP I have helped those directly affected to raise individual issues and I have campaigned more widely for regulation of the sector.
Core Campaign Aims:
Regulation of the Short Term Lets industry
Support neighbourhoods and communities who have been negatively impacted by high volumes of short term lets.
Promote sustainable tourism
Help get homes back into the long term rental sector for local people
Below are some of the key stages in that campaign:
February 2021 - Scottish Government establish stakeholder user group
Draft guidance is to be developed by a stakeholder working group. It is hoped that this guidance will provide information on the operation of a licensing scheme. The Scottish government confirm that, should they be re-elected on the 6th May 2021, the legislation will be laid before Parliament in June to ensure that the timetable on introducing licensing remains the same.
December 2020 - Scottish Government publish response to consultation
Following the consultation on licensing plans, the Scottish government published their analysis of this. You can read it here.
September 2020 - Scottish Government launch consultation on licensing plans
July 2020 - Kevin Stewart, Cabinet Secretary, confirms resumption of work on regulation of Short-term lets
Kevin Stewart wrote to the Local Government and Communities Committee on 10th July confirming that the Scottish Government has resumed its work on the regulation of short-term lets. This includes the following measures announced earlier in the year:
To establish a licensing scheme for short-term lets using powers under the Civil Government (Scotland) Act 1982
To prioritise work to give local authorities the power to introduce short-term let control areas under powers in the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019
To carefully and urgently review the tax treatment of short-term lets, to ensure they make an appropriate contribution to local communities and support local services.
The Scottish Government aims to lay the regulations giving local authorities powers to licence short-term lets and introduce control areas in December so that they can be in force by spring 2021.
July 2020 - Covid-19
As with every aspect of our lives, Covid-19 has impacted on the short-term lets industry. I have heard anecdotal accounts of a number of these property owners returning STL properties to the long term rental market or choosing to sell their properties and will be looking to get some data on this. I also worked with colleagues to ensure that the Scottish Government clarified that shared facilities include entrance hallways, stairs and landings. Therefore short-term lets in tenements need to follow rules for premises with shared facilities. I wrote to Airbnb asking them to take down hundreds of listings while premises with shared facilities were not allowed to open.
January 2020 - Scottish government announce legislation
Local Government Minister Kevin Stewart MSP announced that the Scottish Government will:
Introduce licencing for short-term lets, under the Civil Government (Scotland) Act 1982, with a mandatory safety component which will apply to all short-term lets across Scotland. Local authorities will also be given the discretion to put in place further conditions; to help tackle littering or overcrowding of properties, for example.
Prioritise work to give local authorities the power to introduce short-term let control areas under powers in the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019.
Undertake a review of the tax treatment of short-term lets, to ensure they make an appropriate contribution to the communities they operate in.
This was a very encouraging move by the Scottish Government in tackling the growing problem of Airbnb and short-term lets. I've seen the impact that short-term letting can have on our communities - particularly in areas like the Old Town, Southside, Abbeyhill and Leith - and I've been campaigning for proper regulation of this for some time now. I know that this announcement will be welcomed by many of my constituents.
November 2019 - Edinburgh SNP elected members write to Scottish Government.
I was very happy to co-author a joint letter with Edinburgh SNP colleagues about curbing numbers of Airbnb-type short term let flats in Edinburgh. I welcome the Scottish Government's analysis of responses to the short term lets consultation and I want to see new regulations to curb problem holiday lets to be piloted here in the capital. Read more here.
October 2019 - Scottish Government publishes report on their consultation
The Scottish Government received over 1,000 responses to their consultation and published the following responses stating that they will carefully consider the consultation responses and evidence of the consultation analysis and research reports before setting out our proposals.
- Read the independent analysis of the consultation responses.
- Read the independent research on the impact of short-term lets on communities.
July 2019 - Scottish Government consultation closes
The Scottish government's 2018-19 Programme for Government made a commitment to ensure that local authorities have appropriate regulatory powers to balance the needs and concerns of their communities with wider economic and tourism interests. The consultation was launched to ask individuals, local authorities and other affected bodies for their views on what those powers should be.
May 2018 - Meeting with Keith Brown, Cabinet Secretary
I attended a positive meeting with Cabinet Secretary Keith Brown and Ben Macpherson MSP for Edinburgh Northern and Leith to discuss problem of short term lets in Edinburgh and plan coordinated action between the Scottish Government and city council to protect communities.
December 2017 - Article in Edinburgh Evening News
There are more than 7,000 short-term lets available in Edinburgh on Airbnb alone – it's time for action. I used my Edinburgh Evening News column to set out my position. Read it here.