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Landlord given maximum £7,500 fine for ‘sham’ holiday let

Tenants moving into Edinburgh property were asked to sign a 'holiday lease' rather than a standard tenancy contract to help landlord dodge planning rules.

Nigel Lewis

A landlord in Scotland has been fined £7,500 after failing to protect a tenants’ deposit because, they claimed wrongly, the property was a holiday let.

The legal ruling, which was prompted by campaigning group Living Rent, follows the recent national debate in Scotland over ‘sham’ holiday lets, which have been blamed on a reduction in affordable homes to rent, particularly in Edinburgh.

Politicians in England and Wales will have noted the court case, which has triggered even greater calls in Scotland for stricter regulation of the private rented sector.

The unnamed landlord involved had asked his tenants to sign a ‘holiday let’ lease rather than Scotland’s version of an AST in order, it is alleged, to dodge planning rules, eviction procedures, health and safety regulations or the need to lodge the tenants’ deposit with a government-approved scheme.

Pick and choose

“This case is an important victory for tenants and sets a clear precedent: landlords cannot simply pick and choose which laws apply to them, and no amount of coercing tenants into signing sham leases can change that,” Gordon Maloney, who led the case for Living Rent, told local media.

“We know there are other landlords in Edinburgh doing the same thing, and this should be a warning to them that the gig is up.”

Disquiet over the growth in the holiday lets market is also growing in Scotland.

A recent national poll of Scots found that 84% of them support extra taxes for holiday let landlords who advertise their properties through platforms such as Airbnb and Booking.com.

October 18, 2019

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