Edinburgh is investigating whether it can charge the city’s newly regulated AirBnb operators for bin collections.

The city’s council is believed to be the first in Scotland to look in to ways of ending what critics believe is a substantial but hidden public subsidy for businesses offering short-term lets.

Its move comes after a crackdown on mass evasion of waste management payments in the informal holiday accommodation sector south of the border.

Several local authorities in England have started insisting that firms and individuals offering whole homes for short-term let either pay for council rubbish collection - or show that they have put in place arrangements for a commercial operator to pick up their bins.

Scott Arthur, the Labour councillor who serves as Edinburgh’s environment convener, said: “Following feedback from residents, council officers are currently looking at the issue of whether short term let operators can be charged for their waste collections.

The Herald: Edinburgh is among Scotland’s most littered local authority areasEdinburgh is among Scotland’s most littered local authority areas (Image: free)

"This will be reported to and considered by committee in due course.”

As Arthur suggested, some people in the capital’s historic centre are frustrated by the sheer volume of rubbish dumped in communal bins from short-term rented properties.

This, cleansing sources have said, is one of the reasons why the capital is among Scotland’s most littered local authority areas.

Speaking to The Herald last year, Arthur first hinted at concerns over short-term operators contributing to the country’s 'litter emergency'.

He said: “AirBnb operators are businesses and should not be putting their waste in communal bins: they should be dealing with their own waste”.

The councillor added: “These tourists are very welcome in the city and I do not think they are creating more waste than residents.

“But the sheer number of people in the city does mean that our litter bins have to be collected more often.

“I think this is a point that residents will often make. Like me, they are proud people from all over the world want to see Edinburgh. But they are ashamed by what they see on the streets.

“So that's a big driver for us is to actually get the the city improved, to look good for visitors, and for residents to feel proud.”

Domestic householders - including tenants on long-term lets - routinely get their rubbish collected for free, funded by their council taxes.

But businesses, including hotels, usually have to either pay the local authority for bin collections - or show that they have a commercial contract for uplift.

Councils are responsible for policing whether businesses have proper waste management arrangements in place.

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Local authorities north of the border have traditionally adopted soft-touch regulation of commercial waste.

Firms and individual traders which fail to comply with the law are often given time to make arrangements. However, persistent rogue operators are prosecuted.

Until last year there was no regulation of short-term holiday lets in Scotland.

Against dramatic and enduring opposition from the sector, all landlords offering properties through platforms like AirBnB or booking.com had to apply for licences by last October.

One of Edinburgh’s biggest short-term let operators said the law - similar to regulations in other parts of Europe and North America - would make Scotland an “international laughing stock”.

Campaigners have likened the new regime to “pogroms” - the mass beating, murder and robbery of Jews - and predicted a mass exodus from the market.

The new register means local authorities now have a list of businesses and policing any waste payment regime would be much easier than before.

Some English councils have adopted get-tough stances on what they see as aggressive evasion of waste fees.

Oxford last year announced it would expect all businesses offering whole homes for rent to pay up.

York in 2022 prosecuted and Airbnb operator for using domestic recycling for three years while running a business. The host, who had three properties, pled guilty.

Late last year the council covering the Devon coastal resort of Salcombe banned short-term let hosts and tenants from using public bins or recycling facilities unless they paid up for waste collections.

South Hams District Council in October wrote to landlords telling them they had to register with the local authority or a commercial operator.

The Herald: Edinburgh is a popular destination for those seeking short-term letsEdinburgh is a popular destination for those seeking short-term lets (Image: free)

Any tenant using public bins, officials said, would trigger a £350 fine for the landlord.

These penalties - dubbed a “bin tax” by some operators - were mocked by some AirBnB operators.

One landlord said the measure was “absurd”. He added: “Are council staff going to lurk around litter bins to check the rubbish registration status of someone chucking in a Mars Bar wrapper?”

However, it is understood residents - frustrated by litter and what they see as freeloading - have been reporting tenants who use public services without paying.

Councils in England do not seek bin payments from householders who let out spare rooms on AirBnB.

They appear to be targeting commercial operators providing whole homes for rent for more than 140 days a year.

Such landlords should be paying business rates rather than council tax - though the exact regulation of properties can vary from local authority to local authority. Firms paying business rates are not entitled to free rubbish collections.