The Highland Council unanimously agreed to continue the statutory process to establish a control zone for AirBnB type short-term rentals, effectively bringing them under planning control.
The bold move makes city council one of the first local authorities to effectively enact ‘untested’ legislation and could even spark a wave of sales across Badenoch and Strathspey as short-term homeowners seek to cash in.
The case will now fall into the hands of the Scottish Minister for a final decision after a public consultation underway.
It follows a successful motion raised by Badenoch and Strathspey Highland City Councilor Bill Lobban in September proposing the plan in a bid to deal with a wave of problems sparked by the surge in vacation rentals that have marred the lives of many.
The problems range from soaring prices, preventing locals from buying homes, to so-called party houses that impact residents and even contribute to retention issues for staff who cannot live near work. .
The report to the council’s latest environment and infrastructure committee said that the growth of short-term rentals (STLs) in the country “while bringing additional visitors (and therefore tourism spending) to an area has led to several well-publicized national issues related to the loss of housing stock for purchase and long-term rental and is seen as one of the reasons for the rise in prices of both.
“In addition, national concerns have been expressed that a large part of the STL market is unregulated or taxed and as such the Scottish Government is proposing new legislation to manage and control STL.”
The report details three options along with the associated risks from which advisers can choose, with the first option being essentially a do nothing approach that risks keeping housing supply tight, loss of residents in fragile communities and high property prices. .
The second option was to allow time to collect accurate data and assessments on the number of STLs in the area, which again maintains high property values and risks delaying support for rural housing and communities.
Option three was ultimately accepted unanimously, which will see the potential for residential properties used as STLs revert to being full-time homes, offering greater privacy, convenience and reduced costs. residential disturbances.
It would also support the repopulation of fragile communities while seeing housing prices drop due to greater availability.
But officials fear it carries several risks, including that the assessment of STL numbers will be based on incomplete information and make the Highland Council one of the first local authorities to enact untested legislation.
Other ‘at risk’ areas such as triggering a rapid increase in old STL properties entering the housing market and restricting STL could impact other tourism related businesses due to the decline in the market. many tourists could be considered welcome by supporters.
It has been argued that more properties would allow locals to stay local while providing a workforce that is already impacting tourism-related businesses unable to keep staff.
Other concerns are an area of control increasing the number of scheduling requests that the board has to determine could negatively impact service and budgets or add a financial burden, estimated at over £ 2,000 for each STL operator.
Councilor Lobban said: “This comprehensive report highlights the housing crisis in Badenoch and Strathspey.
“He mentions residents who have a problem with short-term rentals, residents don’t contact town hall, they contact the police.
“He also talks about house prices. There is a development in Aviemore where the cheapest house is a one-bed apartment at £ 190,000 or a three-bed house over £ 350,000.
“These prices are totally unaffordable for the locals, the locals have been completely excluded from the market by the boom in short-term rentals.”
Councilor Pippa Hadley said: “You will have seen the request from the Coylumbridge Hotel to move staff in trailers. When I worked in Coylumbridge they had six house accommodation on the ski slope and were used exclusively for staff.
“Around 2016 these houses were sold and five more houses were developed and out of those 11 houses you can now rent six for short term rentals with costs ranging from £ 600 to £ 2000 per week.
“This has exacerbated all of our local housing problems and I am contacted weekly by our residents, some of them have become homeless and cannot find homeless accommodation in the area to keep their children away. ‘school.
“We are not able to staff our ambulances, some of our schools, our surgeries, we have to have some form of control over some people who have just moved to the area and get housing on a speculative basis. .
“I would really like us to look at option three to give us some form of capacity to change what we see around us and to keep our communities as communities.”
The offer is launched to have better control over vacation rentals