‘Fit and proper’ test for short-term lets?

Council group makes raft of proposals for licensing Airbnb-style lets

Edinburgh requires a licensing system to better regulate short-term lets.

A ‘FIT and proper’ person test should be part of any licensing system introduced for the short-term letting sector, a City of Edinburgh Council working group has said.

The Short Term Lets Working Group, tasked with identifying solutions to the problems arising from the rise of peer-to-peer accommodation platforms, said “the council lacks specific regulatory powers which would allow it to effectively respond to all the issues currently faced by the city”, recommending that it makes a request to the Scottish Government for a new licensing system.

The group said the licensing scheme must: require anyone either operating a property on a commercial basis or in excess of 45 days to obtain a licence; that any owner or operator “shall be fit and proper”; that a licensed property must meet certain safety standards; and provide local authorities with the power to “control or otherwise cap” the number of properties licensed across a specific area.

Further research into the advantages of a registration scheme for short-term lets is also required.

At present councils have no powers to licence or register short-term lets, but they do have some powers under other laws, the group said.

Therefore it advised the creation of a new team, which would utilise powers the council currently possesses to deal with complaints relating to short-term lets.

Councillor Kate Campbell, who chairs the working group, said that, ultimately, short-term lets are having a “detrimental” impact on communities, adding that regulation is “the way forward” for the sector.

“This would give us the power to control the concentration and number of short-term lets in the city,” she said, adding that it would allow the council “to put in place health and safety requirements and a ‘fit and proper person’ test”.

Recent data revealed Edinburgh has been particularly impacted by short-term lets.

Colliers International found bookings via Airbnb for properties in the capital were up 70% in 2017 compared to 2016 – with almost a third (31%) of bookings taken by landlords with three or more properties.