Homes First

The growth in short term lets is out of control in Edinburgh and of increasing concern across Scotland. The conversion of much-needed and valued residential property to commercial letting is happening with virtually no effective regulation or oversight and is causing significant distress to residents. Homes First is a campaign to resist the commercial forces that are being unleashed by the expansion of short term letting, to uphold the value of the homes and communities we live in, and to demand reform in housing and planning law so that homes come first.

“I live in a tenement block in Edinburgh. When I moved into my flat there was a mixture of residents – old and young, single people and families with kids. Many were owner occupiers while others rented for significant periods of time. Now on my floor the other two flats are run as short term lets. One is a short term let all year round – it’s a residential flat purchased for purely commercial purposes.” ~ Edinburgh Resident

What are short term lets?

Short term or holiday lets are properties which are rented out for a few days or weeks at a time typically to tourists and visitors. The rapid growth in online platforms and cheap flights is driving demand for this type of accommodation across the world.

The issues associated with the rise of short term lets include:

  • Antisocial behaviour within communal residences such as tenements. Instances reported include littering, fighting, and late night noise.
  • A loss of community as properties are bought by speculative buyers, who in turn, replace permanent tenants with a high turnover of temporary residents and lead to a flight of permanent residents.
  • Mental health cases associated with stress, anxiety and uncertainty where strangers are ever present in domestic settings.
  • The displacement of available housing for people wishing to live in neighbourhoods that are experiencing growth in short term lets. In turn, this has a knock on effect on local services and facilities as the resident population is replaced by temporary visitors.
  • A tax gap where short term let landlords pay no non-domestic rates towards the costs of maintaining the urban fabric and local services but seek to profit from it at the same time.
  • Concerns over the security of premises, particularly with keys to properties being exchanged to unknown persons for irregular periods of time.

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