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Graham Awards


Greedy landlords accused of threatening future of major festival

Landlords who take advantage of the annual Edinburgh festival by charging high fees for Airbnb-sale short lets have been accused of threatening the future of the event.

The festival is a month long event covering stand up comedy, drama, television, film and other arts.

Brian Cox, the Scottish-born Hollywood star of TV show Succession, recently claimed that accommodation costs in Edinburgh risked “cutting off your nose to spite your face” and threatening the future of the festival.


Now he’s been backed up by Tim Walker, the writer of the Brexit drama Bloody Difficult Women, which has been performed in London and is to be performed next month in Edinburgh. 

In a letter to The Guardian, Walker writes: “Brian Cox is absolutely right to warn that the soaring accommodation costs in Scotland’s capital city are ‘cutting off the lifeblood’ of young talent at the festival  If it’s not the performers who have to give the property owners their huge profit margins, it’s the producers of the shows, and it’s inevitably going to staunch the flow of talent across the board.

“It is a great honour to be invited to perform, and I was thrilled when the prestigious Assembly Rooms said they wanted to give a stage to my play Bloody Difficult Women for the run of the festival, but none of us had reckoned with a bill of £20,000-plus to accommodate our team, including our brilliant six-strong cast.

“It’s right, of course, that production companies pay for accommodation where possible, but this significantly raises the barrier when it comes to breaking even. It also means that there is less money to pay our cast and crew.

“I know of a number of companies smaller than our own that were all set to put on amazing shows, but have had to withdraw because of the costs. These are not merely going to turn away the talent, but also the punters who come to see them each year. The greed of Edinburgh’s landlords will be the festival’s undoing.”

Earlier this year, Edinburgh council approved plans to designate the entire city as a short-term let control area. This will require second homes on Airbnb to apply for planning permission. 

The control area is pending the approval of the Scottish Government, 

Even outside of festival time, Edinburgh’s Airbnb costs are amongst the highest in the UK; a new league table compiled by Pikl Insurance put the Scottish capital in the top 10 most expensive locations.

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    Cry me a river…. Go to the capital of England and try and get affordable accommodation! Join the rest of the Uk in the rental crisis, also when the holiday industry hike’s prices during school holidays, no one says they are trying to destroy family break’s….. it is the market the government has created, suck it up or campaign for a change in government policy, i.e build more houses and flats or…. Understand we have too many people ! It’s a choice.

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    People in the arts who want subsidizing!

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    They will be complaining about the cost of the ice creams next, or, shock horror, the pubs are charging more for a pint and a pie. Landlords are running a business and like all businesses they look to make profits, the service user has the choice of a. Paying for the service they require, or b. Not paying for the service.
    My electric company has just put up their prices. I can either move to another company or pay the higher charges, it’s my choice.

  • George Dawes

    What about greedy councils , greedy government and the oh so greedy global elite

    Hypocrites the lot of them

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    Brian Cox, SNP lackie and The Guardian? Balanced opinions then!

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    Tenants can be "greedy" too. You can let a flat to them at a very low price, and some will then sub-let it and bring in more people without telling you so that they don't pay any rent at all themselves.

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    Not actually mentioning landlords though? I would imagine all hotels, guest houses and B&Bs are charging pretty high prices.
    Isn’t that the law of supply and demand? That’s what I am told when I get my utilities bill or when I put fuel in my car!

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    They are probably looking for that friendly landlady who would put them up for a tenner each, because they were poor artists. ! Obviously Sturgeon has destroyed those type of landladies.


    What kind of artists, P... artists I expect

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    It's called market forces, supply and demand. This applies to all areas of the economy. It's not just landlords, it's all businesses. Just another excuse to trot out the "greedy landlords" phrase.

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    I agree the rents are extremely high during the festival. And flights during school holidays as well. This type of opportunistic greed is not a great endorsement of our Capitalist society. Where is the moderation and consideration for the fellow man?


    I think you might find Russia or China more to your liking, but before you fully commit, ask the citizens of Croatia, Latvia, Poland etc. which type of society they find better - the "fairness" of communism or the "unfairness" of a free market Society.


    Consideration is a 2 way street, where's the consideration for landlords, we live in a dog eat dog world, it's not nice, but that's the way it is, want to blame someone then you need look no further than the government

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    Why don't these artists put on shows at off peak months when rents are cheaper?

    Oh, wait a minute..... There might be less people around then to buy tickets......and ticket prices might be need to be lower then so even the lower rents might not be affordable.

    Another factor is that lower rents might lead to other renters (even longer term renters) snapping up the properties so they're not available for artists or tourists. Would Comrade Cox prefer that or does he want even more market interference from Auntie Nicola?

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    If there were less landlord restrictions and encouraging more landlord investment then the rents would be lower due to more available. So the answer is to encourage landlords, not penalise them.


    Yes it's an obvious and simple solution, which we can all see, but sadly those making all the decisions can't seem to see it. Makes you wonder.

  • David Todd Keller Williams

    Just wait till next year when 90%+ of airbnb's in Edinburgh will no longer be there due to the legislation changes to get planning. BUT you can't get planning unless it is a main door!! Say goodbye to around 5000 units and watch the remaining ones rates and hotel prices shoot up. Good old politicians messing in an industry they don't understand so good luck finding any accommodation next year and especially the year after at any price once it all kicks in. At least the politicians got some good point scoring against those greedy landlords before it all fell apart as there was now no where to stay and rates are now ten times more than they were. Unintended consequences are not unintended when everyone knows that this is what is going to happen!


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