A Highland MSP is warning communities risk being “hollowed out” by short term holiday lets, if action is not taken.
Ariane Burgess, MSP for the Highlands and Islands and convener of Holyrood’s local government, housing and planning committee, says the high number of short term lets in popular tourist spots are leaving people struggling to find somewhere to live.
The Scottish Government is now looking at introducing a licensing scheme for short term lets in a bid to make them safer and to better protect those living next door to such lets.
Short term lets can create lack of safety
Ms Burgess said: “There is no doubt there are economic benefits to short term lets, but what is happening in some areas like the Highlands is young people and key workers can’t get a home where they need or want to live.
“Fifty percent of short term lets are in Edinburgh and the Highlands, so it’s not across the whole Scotland – there are areas of concentration.
“Edinburgh, Badenoch and Strathspey for example are thinking of bringing in control areas so anyone who is putting up a whole house for a short term let would need planning permission.
“Short term lets can create a lack of safety for people and neighbours have no recourse to complain to the local authorities and don’t know what is going on in their area.
“Something needs to happen otherwise we face communities being hollowed out.”
Something needs to happen otherwise we face communities being hollowed out.
– Ariane Burgess MSP
Pressure on housing in the Highlands
The Green MSP also says the over-saturation of short term lets in the Highlands is having a knock-on effect in the demand for long-term housing.
She said: “There is a pressing need on housing in the Highlands.
“I am getting constituents writing to me about hundreds of houses being built on the edge of towns on precious peatland.
“But if we put all our housing to short term lets then we need to build more housing, as it creates pressure where we don’t need to have pressure.”
Committee seeks views on licensing scheme
The committee Ms Burgess chairs is now asking members of the public to have their say on a potential change to legislation which would require all short term let owners needing a license.
📢Remember to get your thoughts in on the licences for Short Term Lets, I will be considering these in my role as Convener for the Local Government, Housing and Planning Committee!https://t.co/Cs2k1M8ZMQ
— Ariane Burgess (@ArianeBurgessHI) September 27, 2021
Those who have short term lets, use short term lets, live near one, or are looking for housing, are all being encouraged to tell the committee their views on the proposals.
Ms Burgess added: “The committee is going to be taking evidence in November and we want to hear from people and understand the views of everybody involved, whether that’s people looking for housing or people who have short term lets.
“The Scottish Government is proposing a licensing scheme.
“It is important to get legislation in place to understand what is going on and so local authorities have a way of handling complaints.
“The committee will take all the evidence and we want everyone to have the opportunity to give us their views and for us to hear about their experiences.”
People can give their views on introducing a licensing scheme for short term lets until October 29.