Wightman proposes changes to help councils tackle housing crisis by controlling holiday accommodation

A Scottish Green MSP is proposing changes to the law to help local councils tackle Scotland's housing crisis by controlling the controversial growth in private homes being used as holiday accommodation. 

Through his Homes First campaign, Lothian MSP Andy Wightman has already shown that the rapid expansion of short-term lets in Edinburgh is depriving the city of £10.6million in taxes each year, while in parts of rural Scotland up to half of all residential properties in some towns are used as holiday homes.

The Scottish Greens' housing spokesperson has today (24 July) published proposed amendments to the government's Planning Bill, which if passed would mean that changing a property from a sole or main residence to either a short-term let or a holiday home would require full planning consent. Local councils would determine such applications on the basis of local policy, and the changes would not affect homeowners or occupiers who only rent out a room.

Andy Wightman MSP said:

"The uncontrolled and rapid rise in short-term lets in our cities and the long-standing problem of second homes in our rural communities is depriving families and individuals of badly-needed long-term homes, worsening Scotland's housing crisis. To date the Scottish Government has shown no interest in tackling these issues, so I intend to bring forward amendments to the Planning Bill to make the changes we need to see.

"Since being elected in 2016 I've been inundated by Edinburgh constituents concerned about the loss of housing supply and an increase in anti-social behaviour. And in our rural communities such as the East Neuk of Fife and parts of the West Highlands and Cairngorms, local people and families are being forced into inappropriate temporary accommodation or forced to leave the area because profit-driven interests have restricted the housing supply.

"The Scottish Government has chosen not to bring short-term lets and holiday homes into the planning system, so I will lead the change. I want local councils to have powers to protect the availability of residential accommodation for local citizens. I welcome views on my amendments ahead of them being heard at the committee stage of the Planning Bill in September."