Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh, looks to limit Airbnb
The famous tourist destination’s city council has called for capping the number of nights per year that Airbnb properties are allowed to be rented out to guests
Whether government should regulate Airbnb has been a hot topic from the company’s inception, accelerating in direct proportion to the prominence of the company, which allows anyone to use the Internet in order to rent out their homes or other properties to guests, essentially functioning like a crowd-sourced hotel property.
The hospitality industry has, of course, taken an intense and active interest in this, given that many believe Airbnb poses a direct and increasingly serious threat to the profitability of hotels, especially those that cater to leisure guests. While Airbnb seems unable to maximize the efficiency in which it caters to business travelers, its appeal to leisure travelers—especially those seeking discounted properties with more local flavor—is largely undeniable.
To this end, many in the hospitality space continue to be interested in what various governments are doing to regulate and potentially limit Airbnb, with hotel groups or those affiliated with them lobbying government in extreme instances.
What’s Happening with Airbnb in Edinburgh, Scotland?
This is all to set the context for what’s happening in Edinburgh, Scotland, where the city council has recently called for a license that would limit Airbnb rentals to 45 nights per year, with an accompanying levy on tourists of £1 per person per night.
This all comes as the city has seen a rising number of tourists in recent years, with the number of foreign visitors to Scotland increasing 16.9 percent to 3.2 million last year, according to the Office for National Statistics. According to a study produced by the council on the impact of the sharing economy, there are more than 9,000 properties in Edinburgh listed on Airbnb, with the platform reporting that 21 percent were operating for more than 90 days per year, the limit currently set in London.
“There is clearly a need for a solution to the scale of the problem in Edinburgh,” the council said. “At present local authorities have no powers to license or register short-term lets but they have some powers under planning, trading standards and environmental health, antisocial behavior and waste legislation.”
“We know that short-term lets are having a detrimental impact on residents and communities and I see regulation of this sector as the way forward,” said Kate Campbell, housing and economy convener. “Our new dedicated team, made up of experts from the Council, will make best use of the powers we have available to us to resolve any complaints.”
Still, Campbell said, in the long term, a licensing regime is needed to really get the industry under control. “This would give us the power to control the concentration and numbers of short-term lets in the city. It would also allow us to put in place health and safety requirements and a ‘fit and proper person’ test for landlords,” she said. “Residents are suffering because of short-term lets. Finding solutions for our communities is a priority for this administration.”
Let’s take a look at a few other projects currently underway in Scotland:
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