Landlord loses fight to rent out flat on Airbnb

Glasgow has taken action against the rise in the number of flats in residential blocks being let out on a short term basis, including Airbnb.

In what is thought to be the first case if its kind, Glasgow City Council has been successful in banning a letting agent from letting a flat on a short term basis in the city’s West End.

Stephen McGlone, who owns Westgate estate agents, lost an appeal heard by the Scottish Government against the first enforcement notice to be issued by the council in a ruling that could have implications for thousands of short term landlords.

New regulations were introduced in March 2017 by the council to prevent an entire flat being let out in the short term, including Airbnb, in a residential block with a communal entrance.

While, it means that an individual room can be rented out if the owner remains living in the property, change of use planning permission is required in other cases. The council said that this could be refused in areas where there is a high density of rented flats.

McGlone argued that operating his flat as an Airbnb did not constitute a ‘change of use’ from residential but Christopher Warren, the reporter appointed by the Scottish Government to hear his appeal, did not agree.

‘The inability of other residents to establish who may be occupying the flat at any given time, and more significantly, the inevitability of permanent residents regularly encountering strangers in communal, but still private, areas of the building, is an indication that the nature of the use of the flat for letting markedly differs from that of other residential flats in the same building,’ said Warren.

The Council said that the original enforcement notice followed complaints from neighbouring residents about noise and disturbance at the block.

Glasgow was the first city to introduce stricter rules on Airbnb style letting and Edinburgh is considering following the example as complaints rise about the amount of short term letting in the city centre.

More needs to be done to stem the rise in short term lets like Airbnb in Scotland according to the Scottish Association of Landlords (SAL) which said that a surge in the numbers in recent years is already having negative consequences for renters in Scotland.

Chief executive John Blackwood said that he is concerned that the huge upswing in short term lets in recent years is being driven by landlords taking properties they had previously rented to long term tenants, instead using them as lucrative holiday lets.

He believes that fresh incentives cold be the answer to reverse that trend. ‘We must incentivise landlords to come back into the long term market along with proportionately regulating short term lets,’ said Blackwood.