As thousands of visitors descend of Edinburgh for Hogmanay, Scottish Greens housing spokesperson Andy Wightman MSP is warning that the rampant growth in property owners converting their houses and flats to short-term lets is hollowing out Scotland’s capital city.
Analysis by the Lothian MSP, whose “Homes First” campaign is pushing for better regulation of the industry, shows that in the last year the number of entire houses or flats being let out for short-term rent has rocketed from 5,474 to 7,366.
Since being elected in 2016, Andy has been campaigning on behalf of constituents who have experienced antisocial behaviour, loss of community, anxiety from not knowing who is coming and going in shared stairs, and a tax gap as thousands of short-term let owners pay no business rates.
Earlier this year, Holyrood’s Local Government Committee agreed an amendment to the Planning Bill from Mr Wightman which if passed at the final stage of the bill will mean that in future anyone changing a property from a home to a short-term let will need full planning consent from their local council.
“Hogmanay is usually a time for celebration but there’s no joy in the fact that Edinburgh’s housing crisis is being exacerbated by the rampant nature of the short-term lets industry. The growth seen in Edinburgh in the past year will be galling to the many residents whose neighbourhoods have been fragmented, and families being squeezed out in their search for affordable homes.
“Sadly, to date, Scottish Ministers have shrugged their shoulders and described what’s happening as part of the collaborative economy when it is quite clearly commercial exploitation.
“I’m pleased my amendment to the Planning Bill went through at the committee stage, and I hope it remains in place when Parliament as a whole comes to vote on the bill in the next few months. It’s clear we need to give local councils more power to control the rapid and unregulated growth of this sector, otherwise we will continue to see capital city and other affected communities hollowed out.”