5 Things I learned at the UK’s Largest Landlord Conference

November 19, 2018
October 3, 2022

Houst recently expanded our offering in Edinburgh – we now manage medium-term lets as well as short-term lets, allowing us to better adapt our letting approach to meet the goals of specific hosts.

With this in mind, on 13th November I went to the National Landlord Day conference – the largest landlord conference in the UK, organised by the Scottish Association of Landlords – at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh. The conference gave me a good chance to brush up on new and upcoming changes in the industry that might impact our hosts at Houst.

The day was packed with useful information and first-hand perspectives from landlords. Here are my 5 top takeaways worth knowing about:

1. Edinburgh isn’t turning into an ‘empty tourist city’ just yet

According to Paul Macaulay of Turcan Connell, the number of homes in Edinburgh that are owner-occupied has remained consistent at 60%. However, the number of buy-to-let homes that are privately rented has increased from 5% up to 15% in the last 5 years – an indication that a more affluent Edinburgh population is investing in property.

2. Graham Simpson MSP, Shadow Minister for Housing and Planning, sees the value of short-lets

Declaring himself a “big fan of the self-catering sector”, Simpson revealed that this sector generates £723 million of revenue a year for Scotland and provides employment for over 15,000 people. Of this, Airbnb generated a staggering £483 million for Scotland’s economy in 2017 alone.

3. The passionate debate around short-term lets continues

Horns locked between ASSC (The Association of Self-Caterers Supporting self-catering in Scotland) Chief Executive Fiona Campbell and Edinburgh Council Leader Adam McVey over the pros and cons of short-letting.

Hosts with Houst (or those going it alone on Airbnb) may have been interested to learn that according to Campbell, there are 9638 Airbnb properties in Edinburgh which make up just 2.5% of the housing stock in Scotland’s capital. Of these, 59% are entire homes, and of this group only 9% are let out more than 180 days a year.

In essence, this means only 0.13% of the housing stock in Edinburgh is used ‘full-time’ for Airbnb – a reassuringly small percentage for those concerned about Airbnb’s impact on local communities.

4. Empty homes as an investment opportunity

‘Empty homes’ are homes which lie empty and unused due to a variety of personal circumstances, including bereavement. Shaheena Din of The Scottish Empty Homes Partnership explained that Empty Home Officers use property ‘matchmakers’ to help sell homes lying empty.

It’s pretty astounding to hear that a whopping 5000 empty homes were recorded in Edinburgh over the past 12 months. Given the popularity of Airbnb in the city, it may be worth considering empty homes as a possible next investment.

5. There are various mortgage options for short-let landlords

Hugh Meechan, COO of The Mortgage Lender, said there were many specialist lenders doing great mortgages for landlords in the short-term letting sector. He specifically named Leeds Building Society as a good option and one worth looking into, especially if you’re thinking of becoming a first-time landlord.

We’ll be working closely with the Scottish Association of Landlords in the coming months, to ensure we stay at the heart of the debate around short and medium-term lets in Scotland and beyond.

Imogene Keane,
Edinburgh City Manager, Houst

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