I urge the Scottish Government to wake up to the need for action to tackle this issue before it is too late and to listen to the concerns of residents whose lives are made intolerable by a market that is out of control and a system of regulation that permits widespread illegality.Andy Wightman MSP
Andy Wightman MSP, Housing spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, tonight (5pm, 8 Nov) will lead a Holyrood debate on his "Homes First" campaign, warning that "a modern day clearance is underway" as communities are "torn asunder" by the rapid and unregulated growth of short-term lets.
People affected are being encouraged to submit their experiences online at greens.scot/homesfirst, and a briefing from Mr Wightman sets out how the Scottish Government could respond, by creating a new Use Class Order to require planning permission, or by extending the Landlord Registration scheme to ensure short-term let owners have to pass a "fit and proper person" test.
In tonight's debate, the Lothian MSP is expected to say:
"This unregulated market is causing severe distress to the quality of life of my constituents: antisocial behaviour within communal areas, a loss of community as speculators buy up properties, anxiety and stress associated with not knowing who is coming and going, and a tax gap as thousands of properties pay no non-domestic rates.
"On one online advertising website, there are 5,474 whole properties available for let in Edinburgh - almost double the number in July last year. This is despite a City Council presumption against any short term lets in flatted property. Title deeds prohibit any business use, yet thousands of owners flout these conditions.
"There is an affordable housing crisis in the city and what residential accommodation that does exist should be used to provide homes for residents in the first instance. Only through a careful and considered process should any short term lets be allowed. The human rights of my constituents to housing and to the peaceful enjoyment of their homes are being violated.
"A modern day clearance is underway as long-established communities are being torn asunder in the face of global market forces. I urge the Scottish Government to wake up to the need for action to tackle this issue before it is too late and to listen to the concerns of residents whose lives are made intolerable by a market that is out of control and a system of regulation that permits widespread illegality."