Living Rent is very concerned about the growth of Airbnb, especially in 'tight' housing markets such as Edinburgh. The holiday let boom has been increasing housing scarcity and increasing rents for people who live and work in the City. We recommend very strong legislation to limit holiday lets of this kind, to ensure housing remains affordable and secure for residents.
Data from Inside AirBnB, a non-commercial data project launched last year, showed that Edinburgh had 6,272 AirBnB listings in July 2016, with over half of listings advertising entire properties, and over a third of these ‘entire property’ listings run by commercial operators. With the emergence of AirBnB management services such as AirSorted and Pass the Keys over the past year, we suspect that these figures are higher in 2017.
As Scotland’s tenants’ union, we are primarily concerned about the impact this will have on the private rental market, forcing already unaffordable rents up, taking away private housing stock and displacing residents who live and work in towns and cities. We are also concerned about the impact this will have on the community cohesion and character of neighborhoods as they become more transient (as we have already seen happen in cities like London) and the knock-on effect homelessness services, that rely on private housing stock, will experience.
Living Rent has the following points for your consideration:
We suggest that local authorities are given the power to implement and enforce restrictions on short term holiday lets
The Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016 gives local authorities the power to react to local conditions and apply for particular areas to be designated ‘rent pressure zones’ if rents are rising by too much. We suggest that local authorities are also given regulatory powers to restrict the amount of time that an entire property can be rented out through AirBnB-style letting companies.
We believe it is imperative to restrict the amount of time that an entire property can be rented out for. We suggest a sliding scale for restrictions, from 30 days a year in rent pressure zones and up to 90 days (without a holiday licence) in other areas
London and Amsterdam both have restrictions on ‘entire property’ short term lets, with London permitting 90 days per year and Amsterdam 60. We feel that in rent pressure areas, these restrictions are not strong enough to dissuade landlords from using their properties as holiday lets rather than as longer term residences. In rent pressure zones, we suggest implementing a 30 day per year restriction on renting out entire properties.
- We do not suggest limiting listings on spare rooms/living rooms
Airbnb describes its business model as ‘hosts’ renting out spare rooms to tourists. While this is not how many of the listings on Airbnb are currently operating, we do not oppose this model in theory.
We suggest that third party management services be restricted
We express serious concern regarding the rise in third party companies offering property management services to Airbnb landlords, such as Airsorted. We believe that these companies are operating as unregulated letting agencies, and will damage neighbourhoods by hoarding private housing stock for insecure, short-term use, to the detriment of local tenants.