Our last article on serviced accommodation (SA) was at the end of 2019. At that time the major cause for concern was further regulations being introduced in the UK. Various cities around the world, from Toronto to Paris to Dublin, were introducing stricter regulations and in some cities, only occupiers were allowed to list their property on sites like Airbnb, thereby excluding professional landlords from the sector. Closer to home, Oxford City Council had called for planning permission to be required for SA (or short-term rentals), and within the sector, many landlords were moving away from tourism rentals and focusing on renting to contractors, or professional short-term lets.
However, as we now know, an awful lot has changed since the end of last year. In this article we will try and keep up with the recent developments and look at what might be happening within SA going forward.
Scotland to “fast-track” plans for regulation
North of the border, the Scottish Government announced in January 2020 that it will introduce licencing for short-term lettings, as well as give local authorities the power to designate ‘short-term lettings control areas’ and also undertake a review of the tax treatment of short-term lettings.
These plans were then put on hold due to the pandemic but in July the Scottish housing minister Kevin Stewart confirmed the resumption of the work to regulate short-term lets in Edinburgh. He wrote: “We aim to lay the regulations giving local authorities powers to license short-term lets and introduce control areas in December (2020) so they can be in force by spring 2021. The delay caused by COVID-19 necessitates this will be a shorter period of engagement than originally planned but we will make sure the process is effective in refining our proposals and finalising the statutory instruments.”
Edinburgh City Council housing convener Kate Campbell added: “We’ve identified that licensing is the best route for us to be able to properly control short-term lets and prevent the negative impacts that they have had on our city and our residents. We’ll continue to take action through planning, addressing anti-social behaviour and, frankly, any route open to us, but we know the game changer for Edinburgh will be a licensing regime.”
Edinburgh council is urging landlords to consider moving properties back into residential use or renting their properties directly to the local authority instead.“During lockdown, with our partners, we've successfully brought a number of short-term let properties back into residential use to help us house people experiencing homelessness” says council leader Adam McVey.