Staggering amount of short term lets found to be unlawful

An online tracking tool that records the scale of short term lets in Scotland has found properties are being let unlawfully, according to a survey by Scottish Green MSP Andy Wightman.

The early results of the survey showed out of 339 commercial short-term lets, only one has planning consent. If these results were replicated across Scotland, Mr Wightman said that would suggest 99.7 per cent of short terms lets in Scotland could be unlawful.

The same issue has been reflected in London where homeowners in the capital are allowed to rent out their properties for short-term lets without planning permission for up to 90 nights a year, but the Greater London Authority (GLA) said that 23 per cent of those offering short-term lets ignored the cap.

Data from Camden council in north London suggested that 48 per cent of landlords are illegally letting their properties out as holiday homes. Councillors said that the problem was so pronounced that schools could not fill their classrooms and families were moving away from the area because of a lack of housing.

This early picture from my Homes First site reveals the depressing truth of how out of control this sector is. All but one of the properties identified so far have no planning consent to be a short-term let. Any property that should have planning consent but does not is unlawful.

While proposed new licensing powers are welcome, they will not be of much use if owners are so willing to flout planning laws. The Scottish Government’s commitment to regulation is further undermined by the fact that Visit Scotland, which has a strategic partnership with AirBnB, is actively promoting holiday accommodation that is unlawful despite encouraging visitors to book only licensed and regulated accommodation.

Scottish Ministers should ask their own tourism agency to stop advertising unlawful businesses.

Andy Wightman MSP
31 Jan 2020
The impact of short-term lets

Nearly half a million properties could be left unavailable for residents looking to rent in the private rented sector. More landlords are exiting the market and moving into short-term lets due to the raft of legislative changes they have to face.