Edinburgh’s short-term rental regulations have recently undergone significant changes, with the city becoming the first in Scotland to introduce planning control areas.
This move aims to increase availability of long-term housing and tackle the lack of affordable housing in the city.
If you own a property in Edinburgh and are considering short-term letting, it’s important to understand the new regulations and licensing requirements.
9th June Update: Edinburgh’s Short-Term Rental Regulations Ruled Unlawful by Court
It is important to note that the plan to regulate short-term rentals such as Airbnbs in Edinburgh has been ruled unlawful by a judge before it even came into effect. 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 unlawful1.
The council wanted to introduce the licensing scheme following complaints about the high number of short-term rentals in the Scottish capital. Opponents of Airbnb have claimed that short-term rentals fuel housing shortages and lead to increased anti-social behaviour.
Short-term rental landlords had until October 1 to apply for a license, with people who list whole properties on sites such as Airbnb also needing planning permission. Renting out a room in your own home, or letting your home while on holiday, would still be allowed.
Activist groups from across the UK claim the Edinburgh model could have been used as a template for short-term rental regulation nationwide - but that now lies in tatters. Opponents of the scheme raised £300,000 through crowdfunding for a judicial review at the Court of Session.
Lord Braid ruled that the lack of provision for temporary licenses and requirement for some hosts to supply floor coverings went beyond the council’s powers. He said the policy was unlawful because it breached existing laws on what licensing authorities could do under the law.
You can find more information about this development and its implications by visiting news sources such as Landlord Today.
Changes to Short-Term Letting Regulations in Edinburgh
Earlier this year, Edinburgh became the first city in Scotland to restrict the use of properties for short-term lettings. The Scottish government passed a policy which means that the city of Edinburgh has now become a planning control area. Planning control areas have been introduced to tackle the lack of affordable housing, and increase availability of long-term housing.
What is a Planning Control Area?
A planning control area is a designated zone where all properties, that are not primary homes, require planning permissions from their local council to operate short term lettings. You can view a map of the planning control area boundary on Edinburgh City Council’s website.
Edinburgh City Council have highlighted that if your property is a tenement, your request for planning permission to short-let will be denied. The property needs to have its own front door in order to gain planning permission to short-let.
If you’ve already been using your property for short-term lettings, you’ll still need to apply for planning permission, unless you’ve been operating for 10+ years. If you’ve been using your property for short-lets for more than ten years you’ll have to apply for a Certificate of Lawfulness.
Do I Need a Licence to Short Let My Property?
Edinburgh Council also introduced a new licensing scheme that came into effect from 1 October 2022. All new hosts intending to short-let their property had to previously apply for a licence by 1 April 2023, which needed to be in place by April 2024. This has now been pushed to 1 October 2023. If you were short-letting your property before 1 October, you’ll still need to apply for a licence by October 1 2023.
Can I Still Host with Houst if I Don’t Want to Apply for Planning Permissions or Licensing?
If you’re a primary homeowner, there are no requirements to apply for planning permissions or licensing. You can continue hosting with Houst as usual.
If you’re a secondary homeowner, you can apply for a temporary licence to short-let. This licence will allow you to try out short-term lettings for 6 weeks, before making a full application.
If you still don’t want to apply for planning permissions or licensing to let your property, you can still host with Houst. Current legislation means that properties used for home sharing and long term lettings do not require a licence or planning permissions.
At Houst, we use a unique strategy to help our hosts continue earning all year round. We use a mix of short, medium and long-term lettings to stay within regulations while helping you earn more. Our platform features a calendar feature that syncs across multiple platforms to attract different types of guests through the year. It’s generally Airbnb during the summer months followed by medium, corporate and student lets for the rest of the year. With this strategy, we help you earn up to 30%-50% more than long lets alone.
If you need advice regarding the new legislation, please feel free to book a free consultation with our Airbnb experts.