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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Latest Campaign Updates

Holyrood is given the opportunity to reform the planning system once a decade, let's take it

Andy Wightman MSP Fri 5 Jan, 2018

On the Thursday before Christmas, Scottish ministers issued a decision letter approving the construction of a film studio and power station at Damhead in the greenbelt to the south of Edinburgh. In a brilliant circular argument, the development was deemed to be of national importance by ministers, thus justifying its incorporation into the local development plan which was then used by ministers to justify their decision.

Half of homes need repaired say Greens

Wed 3 Jan, 2018

Fuel poverty will not be eliminated in Scotland until the government takes action to fix the one in two homes that have issues with weather-tightness and structural stability says a Green MSP.

Andy Wightman MSP says it’s unacceptable for ministers to ignore the latest Scottish House Condition Survey, which shows that 48 per cent of homes have “disrepair to critical elements”, adding that the finance secretary is therefore not in a position to turn down the Greens’ budget demand of a move towards 70 per cent of capital spend on low-carbon infrastructure projects.

One fifth of children in Scotland in poverty; action needed says Johnstone

Tue 28 Nov, 2017

New figures showing one fifth of children in Scotland live in families that are in poverty and cannot afford basic necessities underline the need for action, according to Alison Johnstone MSP, Social Security spokesperson for the Scottish Greens.

The statistics indicate that 20 per cent of children in Scotland live in material deprivation, so cannot afford basics such as being able to repair or replace a broken kettle.

Alison Johnstone MSP said:

FMQS: Harvie warns First Minister not to follow #Budget2017 Stamp Duty cut

Thu 23 Nov, 2017

The Scottish Government would be foolish to follow the UK government’s lead by cutting stamp duty says Patrick Harvie.

Speaking at First Minister’s Questions, Harvie highlighted how stamp duty, already devolved to Holyrood and called the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax, was previously cut by the Scottish Government and warned that a repeat of this would likely lead to a rise in house prices in Scotland.

A dysfunctional housing market gives landlords undue power

Patrick Harvie MSP Fri 17 Nov, 2017

Moving back to Glasgow from university, some twenty-odd years ago, I was in the same position as most people of my age in knowing that the private rented sector was my only option. With social housing unavailable and owner occupation unaffordable, a private tenancy was already the only housing choice available to a great many people. There was some pretty shoddy housing out there, and some pretty sharp practice too, as I found to my cost when I was harassed out of one flat by a landlord who refused even to give me a written lease.