122. The City of Edinburgh Council and some Edinburgh MSPs have reported that antisocial behaviour is a common complaint from residents in relation to short-term lets; most commonly about noise and disruption. These complaints appear to be more common and of greater severity where short-term lets are located in tenements or flats with a common stairwell. While local authorities have a range of powers to tackle antisocial behaviour, these can be difficult to apply where there are difficulties in establishing the identity of visitors or the owners of a property. Question 9 asked,
Q9: 'Do you have any comments on powers to tackle antisocial behaviour caused by short-term lets?'
123. A total of 867 respondents commented at this question. The following table provides a breakdown of those who chose to respond.
Table 13: Q9
|Host with 1 property||184|
|Host with 2+ properties||83|
|Hotel / B&B owner||11|
|Other (non short-term let) landlord||17|
124. A few respondents - primarily affected residents and community organisations - suggested the introduction of a short-term let licensing scheme similar to the licensing scheme for HMO properties. In line with this, a similar number of respondents suggested a need for effective regulation that imposes clear penalties on landlords whose guests display antisocial behaviour. A few respondents referred more generally to the need for police and local authorities to impose regulations in the short-term let sector, although a smaller number noted the need for more resources for local authorities and / or the police to be able to deal with antisocial behaviour in short-term lets. A few respondents referred specifically to the need for powers to revoke or suspend licences if there are continual problems at a particular property, and a smaller number referred to fines for landlords or on-the-spot fines for guests demonstrating antisocial behaviour. A small number of respondents suggested very heavy fines and penalties for landlords e.g. equivalent to the amount of rent paid.
125. Another suggestion from a few respondents was for a register of owners so they can be contacted directly if there is a complaint to be resolved. This comment came from most groups of respondents, although the highest levels of support were from host intermediaries and community organisations.
126. A small number of respondents suggested that short-term lets should be limited, either in terms of overall numbers, or in particular types of property such as tenement blocks or properties with a shared common entrance or stairwell.
127. The need for landlords to be accountable for the behaviour of their guests was referred to by a few respondents; this was supported most by local authorities. A slightly smaller number felt that guests should be greeted on arrival and provided with guidelines or a code of conduct or provided with details of house rules that should be followed. Some of these respondents referred specifically to the ASSC Code of Conduct.
128. A few respondents suggested that existing regulations need to be utilised, but with local authorities and police being provided with enough resources to be able to implement the existing regulations. While this comment was made by respondents across most sub-groups, higher numbers of organisations and hosts made this point. Small numbers of respondents pointed out that local authorities already have the necessary power to deal with antisocial Behaviour under Antisocial Behaviour Notices (Houses Used for Holiday Purposes) (Scotland) Order 2011. Another organisation noted that Part 7 of the Antisocial Behaviour Act 2004 provides a local authority with enforcement powers to deal with antisocial behaviour.
129. Another comment, cited by a few respondents, was that antisocial behaviour should not be attributed solely to short-term lets as this is a general problem and can be caused by those in long-term lets or by students; a smaller number of respondents noted that antisocial behaviour is not an issue that has impacted upon them or in their area. These comments came primarily from hosts and those who are listed on a short-term let platform or a member of ASSC. A slightly smaller number felt that the issue of antisocial behaviour is overhyped by the media and that the numbers of actual complaints about antisocial behaviour are minimal.
130. Other comments, each made by a small number of respondents included:
- Requests for clarification on the definitions of privately let properties and short-term lets.
- A clear definition of what is antisocial behaviour to be outlined in the contractual agreement between the tenants and the owner of the short-term letting property. The same definition could apply to all long-term and short-term lets so there is a consistent approach to the treatment of antisocial behaviour.
- A need to differentiate between secondary lettings, swapping and sharing; the latter two are perceived to be different to short-term lets and do not need to be regulated in the same way as antisocial behaviour is not an issue when the owner is present.
- The need for letting platforms to take some responsibility for the issue of antisocial behaviour caused by short-term lets.
- The use of planning law so that planning officials could choose whether or not to give consent to short-term lets in close proximity to domestic homes.
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