Proposal for Edinburgh to ask for new city-wide powers to control short term lets

Short term lets

Councillors will be asked to approve a proposal to designate the City of Edinburgh Council area as a short term let (STL) control area at the Planning Committee next week (February 23).

The proposal follows a consultation with the public as well as industry bodies and if Committee agree it means the local authority will submit a request to the Scottish Government requesting that the new powers are implemented in the whole of the Edinburgh area.

If Government agrees with this approach, and the new legislation is implemented in the city, it would require residential property owners wholly letting a property which is not their principle home as an STL in the local authority area, to apply for a ‘change of use’ to a STL from Planning.

The majority of all respondents in the consultation were in favour of this approach (88%) supporting the principle of the designation of a STL control area and for the entire area to be included (85%).

Around a third of STLs in Scotland are in Edinburgh.  At the moment, in addition to planning applications made for STLs, to establish whether or not planning permission is required for properties where this is disputed, the Council’s enforcement team looks at each case individually, which is a very lengthy and time consuming process.

The introduction of powers to make a control area follows the Council calling for new legislation to tighten up the control of STLs to help manage high concentrations of secondary letting where it affects the availability of residential housing or the character of a neighbourhood.

Also, it will help to restrict or prevent STLs in places or types of buildings where they are not appropriate as well as making sure homes are used to best effect in their areas.

Generally renting out a room/s in your house or letting your property whilst on holiday would also still be allowed if Edinburgh became a STL control area.

The Scottish Parliament has approved legislation which will introduce a new licensing scheme, which the Council also called for, which will come into effect later this year. It will address the issues of safety, anti-social behaviour and noise. These issues have all had a detrimental effect on communities as the number of STLs has greatly increased across the city in recent years.

Councillor Neil Gardiner Planning Convener said:

I’d like to thank everyone who took part in our consultation. We worked hard calling for new legislation to help us have greater controls over STLs as we know they are an issue for many of our residents across the city. So it was great to see so many people from all different neighbourhoods taking part.

This report highlights the growing pressures of the STL commercial market, which requires a cross-city approach to regulations. With high concentrations in central areas, there are commercial STLs in every council ward in this city.

In some areas STLs have hollowed out communities, put more pressure on the housing market causing prices to rise, and created other issues such as anti-social behaviour and noise.

Councillor Maureen Child Planning Vice-Convener said:

I’m delighted we’ve now got to a stage of this legislation potentially being implemented. If approved by committee and government, these new powers for Edinburgh will greatly complement the new licensing legislation just announced, which we also called for, as you’ll need evidence you have the right planning consent in place for your property as part of the criteria when obtaining a licence.

Published: February 17th 2022