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Landlord banned from letting Airbnb after failed appeal to government

A landlord who lives in the US and lets her apartment out via Airbnb has been banned from doing so in future, after a row involving a local council and a UK government.

Marianne Blake allowed tourists and business travellers to let her two-bedroomed flat in Edinburgh, but following complaints from other residents in the same block, the council ruled that she was contravening planning consent.

Blake, who lives in Pennsylvania, appealed to the Scottish Government. 

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The Edinburgh Live news website says her appeal letter said: "The evidence which you gathered as the part of this investigation, which you presented as a proof that the property is used for a commercial holiday let, is that the flat is advertised on Airbnb and Booking.com for minimum three nights and can accommodate four people.

"But your investigation doesn't mention anything about how many days in the year are available for this type of stays.

"I can ensure you that the human traffic and the average number of residents in my property is not higher than in the average property in this block."

Meanwhile the council contended: "Investigations also confirmed that the property has two bedrooms and is being advertised as being able to accommodate four people with three night stays available.

"In terms of the character of the property, the block which the flat is contained within encompasses a shared entrance door and shared stairs/landings.

"With complaints of noise and disturbance from neighbouring flats, as a result of the intensive operation and the associated comings and goings through the communal stairwell, it is considered that a material change of use has occurred."

The government came down on the side of the local authority.

Edinburgh Live reports the government reporter - an appeals inspector - as concluding: "Given the frequency of commercial visitor lettings at this property as well as the property's relationship with the other three residential flats, and the potential for increased noise and disturbance to the detriment of neighbouring properties, I consider that this has resulted in a significant variation from normal residential activity.

"I find that the use of the property for short stay commercial visitor accommodation constitutes a material change of use requiring planning permission.

"As no such planning permission exists, I therefore conclude that, at the time the notice was served, a breach of planning control had occurred."

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    A lot of these bnbs are owned by Americans, l am afraid American business basically ignores British laws and avoids tax as well.

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    Airbnb is blighting the lives of many Edinburgh residents in city centre flats and houses in residential areas alike.

    This is one Council initiative I support but the reason for the big leap in short term rentals is the lack of control which Scottish property owners now suffer as they can no longer agree mutually acceptable fixed term tenancies with longer term tenants, who now have fewer properties to rent and higher rents to pay due to imbalance of supply and demand.

    The very "government" supporting the Council is largely to blame for the problem!

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    Having invested abroad myself, every investor should do due diligence before setting up a business abroad. Had she appied for change of use and got planning permission she would have could have avoided this situation. Whether in Scotland or the rest of the UK there will be some form of licensing like hotels or HMO's because it' to dangerous not to. What this space. This should stop the casual investors like this American lady.

  • David Todd Keller Williams

    There are about 5000+ airbnb's in Edinburgh that will no longer be able to trade moving through from 1 April next year as they will all need planning consent to continue trading. As majority or over 90% in my opinion are not "main door" they will be refused and the Serviced Accommodation market in Edinburgh will shrink rapidly. This may be good news for some however those units will switch to standard rentals and will go quickly as there is a huge shortage. Others will be sold and will go to owner occupiers. None will become social housing (or maybe a couple) that the politicians have been promising.

    The other issue is that there will also now be a severe lack of visitor accommodation in Edinburgh and especially around the festival and other events so expect hotel, guest house rates and any remaining SA unit rates to go through the roof. Even if you are rich it won't guarantee that you will be able to find somewhere to stay! This could in the long term kill off the Edinburgh Festival as there will be no room at the Inn and if there is certainly not one normal people and performers could afford.

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