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Airbnb launches charm offensive in Scotland after public outcry

Proposals submitted to country's government include landlord registration and planning requirement for properties rented out for longer than 140 days a year.

Sheila Manchester

airbnb online short lets image

Despite its popularity with travellers, cities and towns across the world have issues with the rise in airbnb lettings. High on the list of complaints is that airbnb is reducing availability of private sector rented homes in Scotland.

Following a public outcry about the problem, airbnb has prepared a list of submissions and presented it to a Scottish Government which is consultation on short-term letting.

These submissions have just been announced as airbnb sets out on a six-month roadshow to gather feedback. They include backing for a free online landlord registration system in communities “that need it”, extending planning requirements to those hosting more than 140 nights a year and support for a tourism levy.

35,000 listings

There are around 35,000 airbnb listings in Scotland, contributing £693 million to the Scottish economy last year – some say they have added to housing and community pressures.

Patrick Robinson, director of public policy for Airbnb, said, “We want to be good partners to communities in Scotland and work together on a host registration system that is easy to follow, gives authorities the information they need to regulate home-sharing effectively, and ultimately makes communities stronger.

“Airbnb has long led the way on home-sharing rules in London and we want to extend that collaboration, based on our experience of working with more than 500 governments across the world.

“We hope that other industry players will join us in this important work.”

Gordon Maloney, from Living Rent, welcomed the submissions, but said, “The Scottish Government needs to massively step up regulation on holiday lets. Every holiday let is one less home for a family to live in and in many parts of Scotland, the situation is dangerously out of control… to strike anything resembling a healthy and sustainable balance between communities and tourism, councils must be given the ability to limit the number of holiday lets and the length of time properties can be rented out on such leases.

“In some places, particularly in Edinburgh, that has to mean dramatically reducing the number of holiday lets in operation.”

Airbnb will collate its findings in a white paper and present it to Government and stakeholders in 2020. Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said, “We will carefully consider the response of Airbnb along with the more than 1,000 others we received to our recent consultation on the regulation of short-term lets”.

September 30, 2019

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