Proposals to regulate Airbnbs and other short lets in one part of the UK should be modified, a trade body says.
Currently, Scottish Government proposals for short lets allow Airbnbs to operate outside of so-called ‘control zones’.
But the UK Short Term Accommodation Association wants the regulations to recognise an apparent difference between amateur and commercial short lets.
In a statement the association says: “The STAA is concerned that the existing home sharing, home letting and secondary letting typology being used will leave thousands of legitimate second homes vulnerable to being captured within the new short-term let control zones. It argues that many people across Scotland will have second homes for a range of legitimate reasons and will be unable to ever let these homes out on the long-term rental market as they live in these homes for some portion of the year.
“Therefore, taking them off the short-term rental market will not contribute meaningfully to reducing housing pressure in certain parts of the country. Rather, it will result in more homes lying empty during the year, the very opposite of what the Scottish government wants to achieve.
“The STAA suggests moving towards a system which makes distinctions between amateur and commercial activity, using the existing non-domestic rates system as a threshold, where properties which qualify for non-domestic rates would be subject to planning controls in short-term let control zones and those paying council tax would not, irrespective of whether they are a main residence or a second home.
“The advantage of this system is that it will impose controls on genuine businesses and will not penalise second homeowners who would not otherwise be letting their properties on the long let market.”
The STAA also wants the Scottish Government to automatically give existing short let businesses a licence to continue provided they comply with mandatory safety standards and pay a fee.
The association additionally wants the Scottish government to take an area-by-area approach to control zones. It’s upset that Edinburgh council proposes to designate the whole of the city for a control zone.
The STAA claims short-term lets make up a very small proportion of the total housing stock in outer parts of Edinburgh with few anti-social behaviour complaints about short-term rentals during the last five years.