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First Minister urged to tackle ‘damaging’ holiday rentals

Green MSP Patrick Harvie wants action to stop “distortion” in the housing market and free up homes for rent.

Nicola Sturgeon has not ruled out giving councils extra powers to crack down on short-term lets after being told people are running “mini-hotels” but avoiding business tax.

Green co-convener Patrick Harvie said the boom in short-term lets in Scotland is “distorting” the housing market and cutting the amount of rental properties for people to live in.

He called on the First Minister to give councils the power to use Planning Use Class Orders to tackle the problem, which he said is “damaging communities”.

Speaking at First Minister’s Questions, he said: “There is a huge difference between what’s generally called the collaborative economy of people putting a spare room in their own home up for short-term let, and the conversion of entire properties to effectively mini-hotels which operate without paying any business taxes and which are distorting the housing market in this way.”

He added: “We can only resolve those issues by giving councils the power to regulate…they need to have the option to control the growth of short-term letting and ensure that the housing market operates for homes first.”

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First Minister’s Questions

The First Minister said she is not “ruling out” bringing in new powers but stressed that currently it is up to planning authorities to consider on a case by case basis whether a property’s principal use had changed from residential to business.

She added she understood the pressure short-term lets are causing in parts of the country and the government “will consider any appropriate changes” in future.

She highlighted the Scottish Government’s expert advisory panel on the collaborative economy, which includes organisations such as Airbnb and the Scottish Trades Union Congress, and said any changes would be brought forward following the panel’s report.

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