COUNCIL bosses in Edinburgh have been accused of failing to take action against unlawful Airbnb-style short term lets – after only one property in the city out of almost 500 identified as being used commercially has obtained planning permission.

Scottish Greens MSP Andy Wightman carried out a survey which identified 477 properties in the capital as being operated on a commercial basis, and only one has planning permission for use as a short term let.

An official report set to be considered by the city council’s planning committee has warned that launching an investigation into most of the properties highlighted by Mr Wightman’s survey would delay other enforcement action carried out by the cash-strapped council.

The Greens have criticised the attitude of council officials, claiming it shows a lack of urgency to tackle the problem, the Edinburgh Evening News reported.

The council has warned that details of the owners have not been included in the survey and that a crackdown would hamper other enforcement action already underway.

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Concerns have been raised about the growth of Airbnb-style short-term in Edinburgh and also Skye, contributing to a housing shortage.

The council has said enforcement action against these kinds of properties is “very resource-intensive”.

Green councillor Chas Booth said: “This response to Andy Wightman’s work on Edinburgh’s problem with unlawful short-term lets effectively says the council will do nothing.

“Andy has provided a detailed dossier of potentially illegal activity from short-term let landlords in the capital, so inaction is a totally inadequate response.

“We know that these holiday lets lead to a loss of homes, drive up rents and often cause misery for residents living next to them.”

He added: “At the very least, the council should work out how much it would cost to pursue the owners of these properties and put a price on enforcement work.

“For the price of a letter and a stamp, it’s possible that some of these properties could be brought back as homes, to the benefit of local residents.

READ MORE: Council set to take over short-term lets in the capital and use them as homeless accommodation

“But what this report truly underlines is the lack of proper regulation for the short-term lets sector.”

Local authorities are due to get new powers from the Scottish Government to regulate holiday properties next year to set up a licensing regime which could prohibit the use of properties with shared stairs for short term lets – while new planning laws could allow local authorities to set up short term let control areas.

Edinburgh City Council officers are currently investigating 286 enforcement cases, of which 56 related to short term lets.

Officials have warned that the lack of information in Mr Wightman’s survey about the owners of the unlawful properties, means enforcement action would have “limited success in terms of outcomes”.

If more information was provided, officials stress, it would lead to doubling the number of current cases and “lead to a delay in other enforcement action which is already prioritised”.

Edinburgh’s planning convener Neil Gardiner said: “We’ll always use the existing powers we have through planning enforcement to investigate cases reported to us as we’re very clear that we want to protect residential amenity and to ensure that properties are returned to being people’s homes.

“This is very resource-intensive and we don’t want to divert resources away from priority cases where people have given us evidence of where short term lets are having a significant impact on the amenity of neighbouring residents.

“The council has a cross-party member-officer group, working to achieve the best outcomes for residents.”

He urged residents to report any short-term lets which were causing harm to communities.