Short-term lets 'undermine basic human right to housing'

7 November 2017, 06:24 | Updated: 7 November 2017, 06:25

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A Green MSP has launched a campaign to crack down on the rapid growth in short-term lets, claiming they are "starting to undermine the basic human right to housing".

Andy Wightman set up the Homes First drive to tackle home owners offering properties as holiday accommodation through short-term lets.

In Edinburgh, the latest figures show there were at least 5,474 properties available for this type of let in September 2017.

Mr Wightman said: "The rapid rise in short-term lets is starting to undermine the basic human right to housing."

He added: "There is now a staggering number of residential homes that are now effectively being marketed as hotels with no planning permission, no safety regulations and no regard to families living in close proximity to them.

"This adds further pressure on local housing markets, and depriving local councils of income from the non-domestic rates businesses are supposed to pay.

"These are vital funds that could pay for local community facilities and services including schools, libraries and social care. The current system is fundamentally flawed."

The MSP has drawn up a document examining options for regulation and legislation, including Scottish ministers stipulating that planning permission is required for short-term lets in residential property.

A further option is extending the current Landlord Registration scheme to owners of short-term rental properties, which would require them to pass a "fit and proper person" test.

Mr Wightman has set up a campaign website and is encouraging people to share their experiences.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "The short-term rental market is currently being considered by the Scottish Expert Advisory Panel on the Collaborative Economy.

"The panel, set up in April 2017, will examine how other cities and nations across the world are reacting to the rise in the short-term rental market.

"It is due to provide advice and expertise and make recommendations to ministers on how Scotland can position itself to take advantage of the opportunities of the collaborative economy, a quickly evolving and growing part of our society and one that requires careful consideration by the end of the year."