The rumour mill on imminent Airbnb regulation has been rolling on for an age now and finally things are getting a little closer to being clear.
What’s the news?
After a lengthy consultation (with over 1,000 responses) and Parliamentary debate, Housing Minister Kevin Stewart announced in January 2020 that Scottish local authorities will be able to bring in a licensing scheme for Airbnbs and other short term lets from Spring 2021
This is in response to residents in certain areas of Scotland, particularly tourist hot spots, becoming frustrated that they are unable to find homes to live in as so many properties are let on a short-term basis.
How are things in Edinburgh?
In Edinburgh specifically, the high number of Airbnbs in the city centre is driving up long-term rents by removing much-needed supply from the long-term market. We reported earlier this year that Airbnb listings in Edinburgh have plateaued; partly due to hosts turning their back on the market (in favour of long-term lets or selling up completely) in response to the imminent regulation/licensing and partly due to an oversupply of Airbnb properties available on the market leading to those sky-high short-term rents creeping downwards.
Licensing will include a new mandatory safety requirement for all short-term lets. Locally, councils will also be asked to set rules specific to that area; allowing them to set conditions, taking into account local trends, and will have the power to put in place planning control areas to tackle hot spots. Councils will be able to require planning permission for change of use if whole properties are let on a short-term basis. It’s hoped that Local authorities will be able to keep a very close eye on all short term lets in their region, to improve safety and ensure any complaints are handled swiftly. Scottish Ministers are also considering how short term lets should be taxed in the future but this is still under review so will likely follow post-Spring 2021.
Airbnb landlords have another year to cash in on short-term lets before licensing, and any additional controls, come into place in each local authority. Some landlords will exit the market earlier to avoid being caught up in a rush of properties onto the sales market in Spring 2021. The effectiveness of licensing depends on the council’s ability to resource the licensing department adequately so that applications can be processed quickly and smoothly and complaints can be addressed promptly. In Edinburgh, applications for HMO properties (where 3 or more unrelated people live together; common in student properties) can take upwards of 4 months to be processed, so the prospect of throwing 5,000+ Airbnb license applications into the mix is a worry in terms of the turnaround for applications and the ability to deal with those unscrupulous landlords ignoring the safety and licensing guidelines.
Considering Switching from Airbnb to Long term lets?
If you’re an Airbnb host considering switching your property over to long-term lets, please just contact our experienced team who can guide you through this straightforward process. In 2019 we helped 25 landlords transfer their properties from Airbnb over to long-term letting with Umega, so we’ve got the process nailed and will do all the hard work for you!