Government Consultation Opinion: Edinburgh Holiday Lets

Safe Host’s Response to the Government Consultation on the Future of Edinburgh’s Holiday Let Market

There has been a great deal of media attention in relation to the Consultation document that has been sent by the Scottish Government and Edinburgh Council regarding the future of holiday lets in Edinburgh.

At Safe Host, in addition to having responded to the consultation through the Government portal, we wanted to make our ideas public and voice our opinion regarding the future of this industry.

We strongly support a licensing scheme in Edinburgh, as we believe that there has been a large increase in property owners who let their property out on the various holiday let platforms, and aren’t doing so in a safe manner. However, the manner in which this scheme is put into place is crucial in order to support Scotland’s tourism industry.

As has been suggested by the ASSC, the first step towards licensing is a registration scheme. This is a process whereby current holiday let owners register their properties with the council (keeping in mind that properties which are available to rent more than 140 days a year, should already be registered with the Lothian Valuation Board).

Once registration is in place, there will be sufficient data to conclude which areas are under pressure due to an imbalance in favour of holiday lets. The second step in this would be a licensing scheme.

Within this licensing scheme, there are various factors that we believe are necessary for it to be successful. The first, and the area for which we are experts, is health and safety. Property owners who have registered with the council must sign off to a health and safety check, where they agree to a visit in order to sign off on their health and safety certification. This has historically been a legal requirement, and it is extremely important that this becomes an industry standard. In our experience, in the current holiday let market, it is not.

Licenses can then be issued to grandfather in property owners who historically have been signed up to the Lothian Valuation Board, and have passed health and safety checks. This alone would greatly reduce the pool of applicants that would be eligible to the licensing scheme.

We at Safe Host we are aware of the complexities of this industry, and the fine balance that must be struck in order to continue to encourage tourism during this uncertain political climate, but also not overly reduce the availability of long term let properties. We believe that these are the first steps towards a regulatory licensing scheme – as guest safety is the most important factor.  

We will continue to share our views as more information becomes available, and are willing to work with Council committees in the hopes of achieving an even playing field for holiday let owners.