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Tide turns against Airbnb as Scotland and Bristol move to regulate

The huge increase in Airbnb properties being made available by landlords on short-lets platforms has prompted politicians to take action.

Nigel Lewis

short lets

The tide is turning against Airbnb and other short-term lets platforms after both Scotland and the city of Bristol yesterday announced measures to regulate its use.

Councils in Scotland are to be given powers to introduce HMO-style licencing schemes for short-term lets in Airbnb hotspots after months of sustained campaigning by housing activists.

The debate has been most vocal in Edinburgh, where the transition of traditional renting stock to short-lets has been most acute.

Research published by the Scottish government last year found a three-fold increase in properties available let for short-term use since 2016, rising to 32,000 in May 2019.

Short lets licensing

Louise Dickins, who has run a short-term lettings company in Edinburgh for 21 years, told the BBC that although Airbnb has created huge supply and demand for short-lets in the city and stimulated the economy, she welcomes the proposed licencing.

“It will mean the council will know where all the [Airbnb] homes are and impose safety standards and deal more effectively when neighbours complain about noise,” she said.

David Cox - ARLA - imageDavid Cox (left), Chief Executive, ARLA Propertymark, has also welcomed the announcement: “In some urban areas, the supply of local housing is under intense pressure and as the private rental sector becomes increasingly regulated, landlords are moving further towards the less regulated short-term letting space.

“This can also result in lower quality accommodation for tenants and overall creates a vastly uneven playing field.”

Bristol city councillors also announced cross-party support yesterday for plans to control Airbnb listings in order to ensure a better-regulated market and introduce a more level playing field, although how this will achieved is yet to be agreed.

“There are 2,000 registered properties for Airbnb [in Bristol] and this is rising year on year,” says councillor Nicola Beech.

Read more about Airbnb.


January 9, 2020


  1. Regulation seems long overdue in my opinion. There are countless examples of properties being advertised in my area that state they can sleep 8 or 9 people. When you drill down many are 3 bed flats or houses with bunk beds or several small doubles squeezed into every room.

    There is 1 “guru” selling place on his training courses telling gullible investors how to make money from rent to rent schemes doing just this. He put one video on line recently boasting of the deal he had just done with a punter. The small 2 bed flat was in a block of 20 units, therefore very unlikely that the freeholder would give permission for R2R under the lease, with no fire safety measures that would be required for an HMO.

    The proud new “owner” was explaining how he had a 5 year lease at £600pcm and was going to put 8 people in a night to party in Liverpool centre making himself a wedge at the expense of the real owner whose flat was being trashed and the other building occupiers who had to put up with the noise and the constant change overs.

    With all the increased legislation being brought into the BTL sector this is one area that seems to have been overlooked. Roll on registration and compliance checks to make this safe for AirBnB occupants and a decent environment for local residents.

  2. “There are 2,000 registered properties for Airbnb [in Bristol] and this is rising year on year,” says councillor Nicola Beech. Out of interest, does anyone know how many empty residential properties (which aren’t on AirBnB) there are in Scotland and Bristol?

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