Scottish agents using ‘holiday let’ loophole to dodge tenancy legislation

Scottish landlords and letting agents have been targeted by campaigners who claim many are advertising traditional rental properties as 'sham' holiday lets.

Letting agents in Scotland are using a loophole to circumvent the country’s ‘indefinite’ rental contract length regulations, it has been claimed.

Introduced in 2016 the law, which is similar to proposed regulations being considered for England, replaced short-hold tenancies with indefinite rental contracts in order to give tenants greater security and make it harder for landlords to evict tenants.

But housing campaigners in Edinburgh, which is Scotland’s largest private rental market, say they have identified several letting agents and landlords who are advertising properties as ‘holiday flats’ in order to circumvent the rules.

Living Rent, a local campaign group, says landlords are offering their properties as ‘holiday lets’ in order to avoid having to register as landlords and avoid the law on tenancy length.

Holiday let loophole

It claims the ‘holiday let’ loophole also enables letting agents to sidestep the legislation and means deposits do not have to be protected and properties are exempt from HMO licensing rules and has been holding protests outside several letting agents in the city. SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has promised to look into the loophole.

“The new, better contracts were hard won by tenants up and down Scotland, demanding better rights and better protections from eviction,” says Emma McGillivray of Living Rent.

She said the group, which recently featured on Scottish TV,  is now considering taking legal action against the landlords and letting agents involved.

“We welcome the Scottish Government’s consultation on holiday lets, but if they are serious about protecting tenants, they need take action now close this loophole and drastically step up regulation and ensure tenants are safe,” says Megan Bishop, the author of Living Rent’s recent report into the Scottish rental market.

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