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Short lets damage long term rental stock, research alleges

Research by the University of Sheffield is reported to show the apparent damage done by short lets on Airbnb and similar platforms to the availability of one city’s rental stock.

The research shows that in the city in question, Edinburgh, one Airbnb was allegedly letting out 80 properties.

Some 9,638 properties were listed for short-term let in Edinburgh on the Airbnb website in September 2017, an increase of 54 per cent in just over a year from 6,272 in July 2016.


Of those 9,638 listings, 5,474, or 56.8 per cent, were for whole properties, while 4,126 were for a private room and just 38 for a shared room.

The analysis - extensively reported on in Scotland by newspapers and websites such as Holyrood.com - claims some 36 landlords are running what could be considered to be lettings businesses renting out multiple whole properties.

Report author Alasdair Rae says: “The evidence suggests that much of the sector is unreported and, far from being a way to make a few extra pounds, many ‘gig economy’ hosts are running potentially lucrative lettings businesses.”

A Green Party member of the Scottish Parliament, Andy Wightman, has for some time campaigned for local authorities to have additional powers to regulate short-term lets, which are not subject to the same controls as long-term lets. 

“What’s alarming about the findings of this new piece of research is that the housing market in Edinburgh is rapidly shifting to being led by the demands of investors rather than residents who wish to rent or buy properties” he says.

“While it may be lucrative in the short term, the long-term impacts mean that potential homes are being informally turned into businesses and being removed from the housing stock. This disruption to the housing market must end.”

Poll: Airbnb-style short lets - are there too many in your area?


  • James B

    Which landlord in their right mind would let on an AST if they had the option to short let for the same income or more, and swerve the ‘anti landlord’ legislation hitting them from all angles with standard tenancies.
    The government are pushing owners this direction along with all the other ways it’s putting the squeeze on tenants through landlords, no surprise rents going up with the way landlord are treated they will sell up or short let if the option is there, not helping tenants at all..

  • icon

    There have been a few documentaries on how Uber has 'disrupted' the taxi industry (eg causing suicides in India) and airbnb has 'disrupted' the hotel/B&B/lettings industries (eg forcing out locals in Amsterdam. Venice and may other cities).
    There is an argument for disrupting the way business has been done for decades .... but there are counter arguments that the established way works in a more wholistic manner. What is the point in having such cheap taxis that the business becomes unsustainable (unless corners are cut)? Ditto airBNB? Only those clever enough to set up these new disruption schemes in the first place benefit from them long term.


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