Short-term regulations in Edinburgh and where we stand today… 15 Mar, 2024

Short-term regulations in Edinburgh and where we stand today…

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Short-term regulations in Edinburgh and where we stand today…


The Scottish Government enacted legislation in 2022 that granted local governments the authority to limit short-term rentals in their jurisdictions through a new licencing system. Edinburgh council introduced a control zone that encompassed the whole of the city making a shot-term let control zone.

This means that those operating short-term lest before 1st October 2022 must apply for a licence before 1st October 2023 but can continue to operate as normal until the license is granted. However,  if you are new to short term lets you new to apply for a licence and be accepted before you can take guests.

If you are not quite sure where you stand the Scottish Government have produced a helpful questionnaire:!



However, the story does not end there…

The Court of Session declared on June 8th that the proposed scheme is unconstitutional following a judicial review of the City of Edinburgh Council's Short-term let licencing scheme. This means that any licencing programmes in Edinburgh will inevitably be delayed.

The case centred on a presumption that prohibits tenement properties from being used as short-term rentals unless their owners can provide evidence of an exemption. The Judge determined that this presumption was illegal and that several aspects of the licencing scheme—such as the absence of an option for interim licences and the need that some hosts provide floor coverings—exceeded the council's legal authority. The Judge also thought it was unreasonable to expect a host to obtain planning clearance but then be denied a licence just because the home was a tenement.

Those of us in the industry were glad a distinction has been made because the regulation was supposed to be about promoting health and safety. At The Flat Company we have always ensured that our properties match the same health and safety conditions of our long term lets, we never have more than 2 people per bedroom and we have 24 hour cover to make sure of no disturbances to neighbours.



So where does this leave things now…

While the decision has certainly been a setback for the Edinburgh Council it is by no means the end. The motivation of the City of Edinburgh is to bring a significant amount of accommodation stock currently used by Air BnB back into the long-term market, so it’s not just about health and safety. However, the focus for The Flat Company and the other agents looking to operate high end, properly maintained properties will always be to work within the confines of the regulations and hope that they are not simply designed to decimate the industry but to allow common sense approach so that a vital part of Edinburgh’s £1.3 billon tourist industry can be allowed to flourish.