Skye tenants using Airbnb could face eviction

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Tenants renting out their homes to tourists on the Isle of Skye could be at risk of eviction.

That is according to Skye and Lochalsh Housing Association, which has written to its tenants on the island warning them against sub-letting their homes to visitors.

The association warned that people could be in violation of their tenancy agreement by using short-term letting websites, such as Airbnb, and as a result risk facing eviction.

Analysis from the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) published earlier this year shows that Skye has a greater Airbnb density than central Edinburgh, with one Airbnb for every 10 homes. CIH’s report also claims that this rapid growth of short-term lets could lead to displacement of long-term residents.

Lachie MacDonald, chief executive of Skye and Lochalsh Housing Association, said: ‘The tenants’ agreement is quite clear. Tenants can’t operate a business from the property.

‘We rely on the tenancy agreement between us and the tenant and that’s what we will be using to correspond with them about.’

He added that the same rules apply for people renting out a room or renting out a whole property.

‘We’re contacting the tenants to remind them of the obligations of the tenancy agreement. If they ignore this correspondence then matters will be passed to our solicitors to take it further and implement the terms of our tenancy agreement,’ he said.

Tourist numbers on Skye have soared in recent years with facilities at some of the island’s most popular tourist landmarks, such as the Fairy Pools, the Quiraing and the Old Man of Storr, struggling to cope with the influx of visitors.

While many have welcomed the rise in visitor numbers, others have raised concerns about the pressures on the island’s infrastructure.

The Scottish Government conducted a full-scale consultation on the issue of short-term letting in July this year, something which it described as a ‘subject of much controversy’. The consultation’s findings will be published later this year and are aimed to act as a guide for future policy decisions.

Highland Council, meanwhile, has just launched a public consultation on the possibility of introducing a Transient Tourist Levy, as reported elsewhere in the Lochaber Times this week.