Approval given to proceed with proposal to designate Edinburgh as Short-term Let Control Area

On Wednesday at Planning Committee, proposals were approved to designate the City of Edinburgh Council area as a short-term let (STL) control area.

The proposal follows a consultation with the public as well as industry bodies. 

The majority of respondents to the consultation were in favour of a control area, with 88% supporting the principle of it, and 85% supporting the entire City of Edinburgh Council area to be included.

A report of the consultation forms part of our Report to Planning Committee. 

The designation cannot come to effect without the approval of Scottish Government. A request will be submitted to the Scottish Government requesting that the new powers are implemented in the whole of the Edinburgh area.

If the government agree with this approach, and the new legislation is implemented in the city, it will 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 planning permission for a ‘change of use’ to a short-term let.

Short-term lets of private rooms or shared rooms where the property is the only or principal home of the host will not be affected by the control area requirement. This allows for house swaps at holidays and also for the host to let out the entire property when on holiday or working away, provided the property remains their only or principal home.

If approval is given by the Scottish Government, the designation will be publicised in advance of coming into effect. 

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

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

Complementary to the control area legislation, the Scottish Parliament has approved legislation which will introduce a new licensing scheme requiring short-term lets to be licensed from July 2024.  It will address the issues of safety, anti-social behaviour and noise.

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Edinburgh’s Proposed Designation of a Short-Term Let Control Area Consultation

This week sees the opening of the consultation on a Short-Term Let Control Area for Edinburgh.

Legislation introduced in April 2021 allows a local authority, subject to the approval of Scottish Government, to designate all or part of their area as a short-term let control area. 

A control area is a legal designation.  In a control area a property owner who is letting out a residential property (which is not their principal home) on a short-term let basis would have to apply for ‘change of use’ approval through the planning application process.

Short-term lets of private rooms or shared rooms where the property is the only or principal home of the host will not be affected by the control area requirement. This allows for house swaps at holidays and also for the host to let out the entire property when they are on holiday or working away, provided the property remains their only or principal home.

It is proposed that the entire Council area is designated as a Short-Term Let Control Area.  

There are a significant number of short-term lets in Edinburgh.  In the period 2016-2019 there was a substantial rise in the number of both entire properties and rooms registered with Airbnb.  In 2019, 31% of all Airbnb listings in Scotland were in the city of Edinburgh.  

Short-term lets can provide additional accommodation during important times of the year however there are many associated impacts which have been identified nationally, including the supply and affordability of housing and disruption to local communities and to neighbours. 

In the absence of a Control Area use of a dwelling for short-term let only requires planning permission if on assessment of the material circumstances it is considered a change of use has occurred.  Therefore, currently the use of many dwellings as short-term lets falls out with planning control.

A control area for Edinburgh, that establishes the need for planning permission for short-terms lets, would help manage high concentrations of short-term letting, control short-term letting in types of buildings where it is not appropriate and help ensure homes are used to best effect. 

Details of the proposed designation are available on our Planning Web page.   

Why we are consulting

Responses will be used to inform the decision on taking forward a Short-Term Let Control Area for formal designation. 

The consultation period is open for 9 weeks, from the 3rd September 2021 until 5th November 2021.

We would welcome views via our consultation hub

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