Wed 24 Jun, 2020

Scottish Greens housing spokesperson Andy Wightman has urged protection for residents after holiday short-term lets have been advised they could reopen next month, pointing out that many of these properties are flats which share accommodation with permanent residents.

Ahead of the tourism sector restarting Andy Wightman wrote to Tourism Secretary Fergus Ewing, urging the Scottish Government to consider what specific advice should apply to short-term lets in shared stairwells. 

Short-term lets in cities are often in tenement buildings, where guests share entrances with permanent residents. In Edinburgh some properties have returned to rented accommodation.

Evidence shows that SARS-CoV-2 remains infectious on surfaces such as banisters, doorknobs and doors for some time. Hallways are rarely configured for safe social distancing.

The Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers has released new cleaning protocol for self-catering properties in the context of Covid-19. [3] It is not clear what evidential basis underpins this protocol.

Andy Wightman said:

“Residents living in buildings occupied by short-term lets – many of which are unlawful as they do not have planning permission – will be put at risk. These residents may still be shielding, self-isolating, have caring responsibilities or working in front-line services.

“The lockdown period has provided a brief respite for some residents who live next to short-term lets, and some properties have returned to becoming homes, but unfortunately many short-term lets have continued to operate despite government advice.

“It’s important that the safety of residents should be the Scottish Government’s primary concern as lockdown restrictions are lifted, not the incomes of short-term let owners.”

The ASSC guidelines state: “If the property has a communal entrance / communal stairwell, corridor etc a fully protected housekeeper (gloves & apron) should attend as soon as possible and use disposable materials to wipe down all door handles, entrance systems, stairwell banisters, light switches to try and minimise risk of spread to neighbours.”

A search on Airbnb found the following number of flats available as holiday accommodation from July:

Glasgow: 216

Edinburgh 300+

Inverness: 56

Aberdeen: 90

A search on booking.com found 617 apartments available as holiday accommodation from July across Scotland. More are likely to be listed as soon as  holiday accommodation is officially permitted to open again.

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