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Governments slammed for rushing blindly into Airbnb regulation

A trade body has criticised the various UK governments for “rushing blindly” into poorly-constructed regulation of short lets.

The angry words from the Short Term Accommodation Association follow a court decision at the end of last week relating to a Scottish local authority bid to strictly regulate Airbnb-style short lets.

Edinburgh council wanted to introduce the licensing scheme following complaints about the high number of short-term lets in the Scottish capital. Opponents of Airbnb claimed that short lets fuelled housing shortages and led to increased anti-social behaviour


Short let landlords in the Scottish capital had until October 1 to apply for a licence, with people who list whole properties on sites such as Airbnb also needing planning permission.

However, a group of landlords in Edinburgh took the city council to court and following a two-day hearing at the Court of Session, Lord Braid agreed that part of the proposal was unlawful.

Now the proposal - which had the backing of the Scottish Government and was seen as a template for regulation - lies in tatters.

Andy Fenner, chief executive of the Short Term Accommodation Association, says: “This decision is further proof that local and national governments across the UK are rushing blindly into plans to regulate the short term rental industry, risking unintended consequences that will seriously damage local economies and the hundreds of thousands of people who rely on the short term rental industry for their livelihoods.

“We've said all along that a registration scheme should be the first step, so that policy decisions can be based on fact not fiction. Introducing a registration scheme first is the only way to understand the breadth and depth of the holiday let market, and the wider economic contribution it makes. 

“The short term rental industry contributed £27.7 billion to the UK economy in 2021. In some areas that rely heavily on tourism, these restrictions could have a severe impact.

“The knock-on effects of rule changes that have already been introduced in Scotland and Wales are yet to become clear. The short-term rental industry is an easy target when it comes to the housing crisis but the focus should be elsewhere. Housebuilding has slumped, targets have been abandoned and the nation is littered with empty homes and second homes that never attract a penny of tourism spending.”

  • Kristjan Byfield

    Alternatively: Body set up by short-let platforms (which has largely point blank refused any sensible suggestions on changing their operating practices to date) is somewhat upset that they are now getting punished and will likely feel it in their pocket. Waaaa.


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