Hundreds of short-let properties normally crammed with tourists at this time of year are standing empty, but councillors have launched a scheme to return them to their ‘proper use as a home’.
Edinburgh landlords and holiday let owners left with empty homes due to coronavirus are being encouraged to lease or sell them to the council.
Landlords can either get guaranteed rent for up to five years, or are now being encouraged to sell them via the Link Group, which is investing up to £30 million in buying about 200 empty homes, including those used as short-term lets. Link hopes it can eventually lease up to 1,850 properties back to the council.
Edinburgh Council has a difficult relationship with the short-term lets sector and is cracking down on Airbnb rentals; Edinburgh Old Town has the highest incidence in the UK, with 29 active listings for every 100 properties, according to data gathering firm Inside Airbnb.
Council leader Adam McVey says:“This scheme offers a solution for private landlords who are unable to receive rental income during the pandemic, but more importantly for the city it increases the number of homes available to people experiencing homelessness.
“We’d love to see many of the properties that had been used as short term lets returning to their proper use as homes.”
Link Group commercial director, Colin Culross, adds:“The scheme is a welcome solution for Edinburgh landlords with buy-to-let mortgages currently seeking financial support or mortgage payment holidays due to a lack of rental income. More than 1,000 landlords are already receiving guaranteed rent through private sector leasing, which has been operating successfully for over a decade.”
Meanwhile, Airbnb landlords in the city who have seen business slump are doing their bit by offering vacant properties to homeless families affected by the crisis.