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Government accused of skewing rental market to favour short-lets

The government has been accused by a lettings sector trade body of skewing the market to encourage more short-lets. 

The claim comes from the Residential Landlords Association after its research revealed that in Edinburgh, the number of properties listed on Airbnb soared from 6,411 in 2015 to 18,105 in 2017.

These new figures follow similar large increases in London where the number of listings increased from 60,587 in 2015 to 173,714 in 2017. 

This prompted concern by the RLA that properties were being taken off the market for long term rent and instead were being advertised only for holiday lets so reducing the supply available for those in need of somewhere to live. 

The cause, the RLA says, is in tax changes affecting buy to let landlords.

In the face of this concern, Airbnb has proposed banning owners from advertising properties for more than 90 nights a year as a holiday let. This is line with regulations in London which state that short term holiday lets can be rented out for a maximum of 90 nights a year without planning permission.

However, although the welcomes Airbnb’s suggestion it is warning that the government is skewing the market and encouraging landlords to switch to short term lets.

This includes the phased restriction to the basic rate of income tax for mortgage interest relief for landlords, which does not apply to properties used for short term holiday lets.

The RLA argues that to halt this trend and encourage more homes to be available for longer term renting the government needs to scrap its tax increases on the private rented sector. 

"Whilst Airbnb plays a very important role in letting holiday accommodation in Edinburgh, this should not be at the expense of the supply of long term homes to rent that are desperately needed” says the association chairman, Alan Ward. 

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    Landlords switching to short let’s woukd not avoid the unfair taxes, but the figures are no surprise that landlords leave standard shorthold tenancies to avoid the continued landlord bashing and legislation hitting them from all angles, coupled with the constant propaganda levied landlords encouraging tenants to go after landlords and agents in all sorts of ways. The government want the small landlords out so if landlords have a property that suits holiday let’s then that’s an obvious choice rather than sell.
    Who pays the end price -Tenants !! the group government claim they are doing all this for.

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    Short stay apartments are not classed always as holiday lets.
    More importantly how many of these short stay properties on Airbnb are leasehold city apartments ? and how many of theses are operating against the terms of their lease , block insurance and lender ?
    It is time for leasehold managers and Airbnb to police this , I think Airbnb have a duty of care to make sure leasehold apartments advertised with them have the authority from their block management company or freeholder to rent on a short stay basis.

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    Long term lets are heavily regulated meanwhile there is nothing to stop you putting a 12 strong Stag party into a two bedroom flat for a short term let.

  • John Boyle

    The other reason for the big shift in Scottish cities like Edinburgh has been tenancy reform - including the end of 'no fault possession' and potential rent controls. Holiday lets are exempt, hence part of the reason for the Airbnb surge in places like Edinburgh.

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