Agents call for Scottish policy makers to “catch up” with rental regulations

UK: Following reports that 84 per cent of Scots want new taxes imposed on short-term landlords, letting agents have called for policy makers to respond.

Jonathan Gordon, director with Clan Gordon, said: “It is crazy to have thousands of properties let out short term with no regulations at all. Speaking so often to landlords, we have real perspective on this – and know from first-hand experience that many letting their property out short term are doing so to avoid the robust regulations of the private rented sector. You have to therefore ask, is it sensible to have tourists living in unsafe holiday lets that it would be illegal to rent
as homes?”

He added: “Edinburgh in particular is seeing sweeping changes to whole neighbourhoods and it is apparent that the short-term
letting boom has left policymakers playing catch-up. We must now make up that ground. This isn’t beyond our collective wit either. For instance, we’ve seen a marked increase in Edinburgh Council’s enforcement of landlord registration and student HMO (House in Multiple Occupancy) accommodation. In addition, the Scottish Government could easily make two changes, which I assume would only take secondary legislation. That would be to extend both landlord registration and the repairing standard to all types of letting. Surely this would be backed by most MSPs? I can see the popular appeal of taxation and the public’s frustration at the current situation. Again, an easy place to start would be to increase council tax charges on properties used for short term lets.”

Speaking on release of the survey information, Megan Bente Bishop, from Living Rent Edinburgh, said: “Edinburgh’s festival season puts extreme strain on the city’s housing. Huge numbers of new holiday lets have been set up in the city to profit off of this but every holiday let is one fewer home for the people who live and work here year-round. You cannot build a city which only serves those who visit a few months a year at the expense of residents, and the
situation in Edinburgh underlines the desperate need to limit holiday lets.”

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