Living Rent today publishes a major new report, exposing a loophole unscrupulous landlords are abusing to exploit tenants. You can read the full report here.
We are calling on the Scottish Government to do four things:
1) Limit the length of holiday lets to no more than 31 days
2) Limit how many days of the year a property can be rented out as a Holiday Let
3) Require holiday let landlords to register - just like normal landlords have to
4) Require third-party companies - like Airbnb or Edinburgh Party Lets - to register, just like normal letting agents have to
However, we will not wait for action from the Government. We can also today announce that we are pursuing a number of cases of sham holiday lets in court, and will take direct action against landlords and letting agents operating them.
Over the last decade, the Scottish Government has introduced a number of welcome changes in the Private Rented Sector (PRS); including requiring landlords to register, the introduction of mandatory tenancy deposit protection schemes, better protections from evictions, clarifying the illegality of premium fees, and the introduction of the First-Tier Tribunal to make the process by which tenants can raise disputes more accessible.
While more remains to be done, the PRS is undoubtedly a better place for tenants following these changes. However, a major oversight risks undermining these steps forward: regulations around short-term or holiday lets are subject to far less regulation.
Living Rent has been contacted by increasing numbers of tenants who have signed holiday lets that are nothing of the sort: some lasting for far in excess of 6 months. These holiday let leases afford tenants almost none of the protections tenants would be guaranteed under Short-Assured Tenancies or Scottish Private Residential Tenancies; neither landlords nor agencies operating on their behalf need to register; properties are exempt from HMO licensing; tenants aren’t entitled to third-party protection of their deposits; the properties are not subject to the same standards in terms of fire safety and repairs; and it is significantly easier to evict someone from a holiday let.
There is reason to believe that some landlords are exploiting this lack of regulation in holiday lets to avoid their legal responsibilities as landlords - putting tenants and communities at risk. Our report outlines the situation, and finishes by proposing a way forward.