Forbes welcomes new powers on short-term lets

Skye MSP Kate Forbes has welcomed the new powers given to local authorities over short-term lets.

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After last year’s study by the Scottish Government revealed almost one in every five dwellings on Skye is now run as an AirBnB, local MSP for the island Kate Forbes has backed an announcement that Highland Council will be given new powers to licence and limit the number of short-term lets.

The number of short-term lets in Scotland, and especially in the Highlands, has risen dramatically in recent years and in some areas locals are finding it increasingly difficult to rent homes to live in.

Other Highland hotspots included Wester Ross, Strathpeffer and Lochalsh (10.73 per cent of all dwellings), Caol and Mallaig (10.70 per cent), Aird and Loch Ness (9.87 per cent), Fort William and Ardnamurchan (9.74 per cent), and Badenoch and Strathspey (7.56 per cent). The national average was 1.2 per cent.

Speaking in Holyrood last week, Housing Minister Kevin Stewart outlined the Scottish Government’s plans to establish a licensing scheme for short-term lets and a review of the tax paid by the properties – as well handing councils the power to introduce ‘short-term let control areas’ where the number of AirBnB properties can be restricted through planning permission.

Ms Forbes, MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, said: ‘The past few years have highlighted the need in the Highlands for balance between the economic benefits of tourism and the impact on local communities.

‘The pressure on housing, employment and infrastructure, alongside the significant economic boost of tourism, has required a new approach to regulation.

‘In the Highlands, short-term lets such as AirBnB have undoubtedly restricted the number of properties available for those in need of home in which to live.

‘This is exacerbating the pressures on housing, due to the historic prevalence of second homes and high prices. Building more homes is part of the solution, but so also is looking at managing the current demands better.

‘The proposals announced by the Scottish Government will give Highland Council new powers to control the number of short-term lets in the local community and ensure they make a fair contribution to the services they use.’