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Graham Awards


Council buying homes to stop them becoming Airbnbs

A council has purchased some 40 properties to avoid them becoming holiday homes and Airbnbs.

Highland council in Scotland is spending up to £180,000 on each property; this is slightly under the average price of homes in the region.

Around 130 sellers are reported to have shown an interest and the council says it hopes to buy additional homes later this year.


The purchased properties will be used to let long-term to key workers or local residents.

Allan Maguire, head of development and regeneration at Highland Council, told the Daily Telegraph newspaper: “People will sometimes say to us that their parents lived in the area all their lives and that they don’t want to sell it on the open market and then be used for an Airbnb.

“Rather than you selling the property and it then be used as a holiday home, we will pay market value for it but we will also not require a home report or for you to pay estate agents fees.”

The council also wants the government to say that part of its area - Badenoch and Strathspey - can adopt both overall rent controls and short-let controls over hosts letting rooms and properties via Airbnb and similar platforms.

However, Highland council’s own official consultation attracted only 332 responses with 42.99 per cent in favour and exactly 42.99 per cent against. Another 8.84 per cent were undecided. 

Despite the lack of consensus the majority of councillors voted to press ahead with a call to the Scottish Government to make the area a Rent Control Zone.

Highland council is also nearing the end of a consultation process with local communities, businesses and the public on a draft policy statement beginning short let licensing from October 1.

The short term let licensing scheme will apply to a wide range of accommodation including self-catered properties, B&Bs, guest houses, glamping pods and yurts.

The licensing scheme was brought in by the Scottish Government with the aim to ensure short lets are safe, to address issues faced by neighbours, and to facilitate local authorities in knowing and understanding what is happening in their area and handling complaints effectively. 

Poll: Is it a good idea to buy homes to guarantee long-term homes to rent?


  • Neil Moores

    About time. I have wondered for years why councils or government don't buy homes and let them out themselves. Our firm bought several properties in the late 2000's from people on the verge of repossession because they had been riding the adverse credit re-mortgage wave and generally had not been paying their mortgages. We still have a few now and the council pays them the money to pay their rent. If we had not bought them the council would have spent a lot of money on temporary accommodation before housing them or paying for housing elsewhere. The government introduced expensive licensing requirements after that so we moved away from the market, having plenty of other licensing worries to deal with with our other properties, and we thought that it would have been much more sensible for the government/council to buy these rather than just forcing everyone else out of the market and retaining the re-homing headache.

  • icon

    As long as the council have to apply the same standards as the private sector landlords it makes sense. Its not a bad idea for them to have an experience of what's its like to be a private sector landlord. I would like to see the Welsh Assembly try this idea out instead of introducing additional levies on short term lets in our holiday spots


    Ever thought of a career in comedy? Apply the same standards as the PRS. that is the best lagh I have had all year.

  • icon

    Micheal Johnson l am aware of complete council estates being vandalised, then demolished. Like Detroit! It's hidden behind auephmism of "Not popular with the tenants "


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