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Airbnb short lets require planning change of use, appeal process decides

A landlord who appealed against a local council decision regarding the letting of her apartment on Airbnb has lost – and has now been ordered to secure a change of use planning consent, or stop renting it out.

Edinburgh council told landlord Wendy Howe that she had breached planning rules by letting out her two-bed apartment as a short let for over seven years, although Howe insisted the lettings were monitored and had not caused a nuisance.

In her appeal document, reported by The Scotsman newspaper, Howe says:”My house rules for guests clearly state the need to reduce noise to respect the neighbours and the interior decoration of our property does not appeal to younger guests.
“The demographic it appeals to are families and mature people, my statistics are proof of that fact. Therefore this is not a party flat and has never been used as one.”

However, the council’s submission to the appeal process said: “The use of the dwelling for short stay commercial visitor accommodation, which allows guests to book two-night stays, enables new individuals to arrive and stay at the premises for short periods of time on a regular basis throughout the year in a manner dissimilar to that of permanent resident.

“This regular turnover of visitors, combined with guests having access to a communal hallway, is detrimental to neighbouring residential amenity.”

Under the Scottish appeals process, the final decision is made by a figure called the government reporter. This person is reported by The Scotsman as ruling: “Given the frequency and pattern of commercial visitor lettings at this property as well as the property’s relationship with the other flat in the shared entrance, and the potential for increased noise and disturbance to the detriment of the neighbouring property, I consider that this has resulted in a significant variation from normal residential activity.

“I find that the use of the property for short stay commercial visitor accommodation constitutes a material change of use requiring planning permission. As no such planning permission exists, I therefore conclude that a breach of planning control has occurred.”

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