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.”