Council buying homes to stop them becoming Airbnbs

A council has purchased some 40 properties to avoid them becoming holiday homes and Airbnbs.

Highland council in Scotland is spending up to £180,000 on each property; this is slightly under the average price of homes in the region.

Around 130 sellers are reported to have shown an interest and the council says it hopes to buy additional homes later this year.
The purchased properties will be used to let long-term to key workers or local residents.

Allan Maguire, head of development and regeneration at Highland Council, told the Daily Telegraph newspaper: “People will sometimes say to us that their parents lived in the area all their lives and that they don’t want to sell it on the open market and then be used for an Airbnb.

“Rather than you selling the property and it then be used as a holiday home, we will pay market value for it but we will also not require a home report or for you to pay estate agents fees.”

The council also wants the government to say that part of its area – Badenoch and Strathspey – can adopt both overall rent controls and short-let controls over hosts letting rooms and properties via Airbnb and similar platforms.

However, Highland council’s own official consultation attracted only 332 responses with 42.99 per cent in favour and exactly 42.99 per cent against. Another 8.84 per cent were undecided. 

Despite the lack of consensus the majority of councillors voted to press ahead with a call to the Scottish Government to make the area a Rent Control Zone.

Highland council is also nearing the end of a consultation process with local communities, businesses and the public on a draft policy statement beginning short let licensing from October 1.

The short term let licensing scheme will apply to a wide range of accommodation including self-catered properties, B&Bs, guest houses, glamping pods and yurts.

The licensing scheme was brought in by the Scottish Government with the aim to ensure short lets are safe, to address issues faced by neighbours, and to facilitate local authorities in knowing and understanding what is happening in their area and handling complaints effectively. 

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