In parts of Edinburgh, the proliferation of Airbnb and its imitators is having a detrimental impact on local amenity and community cohesion, says a new report by Edinburgh's Civic Trust, the Cockburn Association. While recognising that short-term self-catering accommodation can make efficient use of under-utilised space, and offer affordable accommodation, the report notes that it can also reduce the supply of long-term renting. In Edinburgh, the Old Town is the arae most directly affected, though by no means the only one. Some properties have been converted to commercial short-lets, in effect breaching the requirement to get planning permission for change of use. There are concerns, well expressd by an Old Town resident quoted in the report, about the disrption that such conversion causes within a tenemental property, and how absent owners complicate issues of property maintenance and repair.
The report reviews ways that other cities, including Berlin, Barcelona, Paris, San Fransisco, New York and Montreal have approached the need to regulate short-term letting. It concludes with a set of recommendations for action, arguing that a system of licensing offers the best way forward. However, there is als a call to amend the Use Classes Order. "Short-term letting of an entire residential unit for more than 90 days in a calendar year, regardless of the platform or agency used should be deemed to be commercial use, requiring planing permission." It argues that this would still allow the originial "sharing" model to operate, which has long existed in Edinburgh where many people rent out rooms or entire properties during the annual Festival in August.
Click here to download the full report for free.