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Landlord ordered to pay £7,500 after claiming student home was a holiday let

An unscruplous landlord has been handed a £7,500 fine after he broke tenancy laws by claiming a flat in the Warriston area of Edinburgh was a holiday let.

Alexander Forsyth advertised the five-bedroom property to students and despite successfully letting it out, he failed to protect tenants’ deposits in an approved third-party scheme. 

But the landlord claimed that the lease was a holiday-let and so exempt, despite the fact that his tenants were a mix of students and young professionals. His claim was rejected by tribunal members. 

Gordon Maloney, who led the case for tenants group Living Rent, commented: “This case is an important victory for tenants and sets a clear precedent: landlords cannot simply pick and choose which laws apply to them. 

“And no amount of coercing tenants into signing sham leases can change that.”

Living Rent published a report earlier this year claiming that many landlords in Edinburgh are using ‘sham’ holiday let leases to avoid regulation and legal responsibilities.

The main concern is that such leases fail to grant tenants the same protection from eviction or deposit deductions and are subject to lesser health and safety regulations, such as HMO licences.

It is also worth pointing out that no registration is required of holiday let landlords, and this means that those struck off the landlord register can continue to rent properties as holiday lets.

Maloney added: “We know there are other landlords in Edinburgh doing the same thing [as Alexander Forsyth by claiming that the lease was a holiday-let], and this should be a warning to them that the gig is up,” said Mr Maloney.

“The whole case, however, underlines the urgent need for further regulation and clarity on holiday lets.

“People shouldn’t have to be experts on Scottish housing law in order to find somewhere safe to live, and it should not have required tenants to undertake ten months of legal action to get this verdict.

“If the government is serious about protecting tenants, they need to regulate and crackdown on holiday lets now to avoid anything like this ever happening again.”

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