EDINBURGH is to pioneer a crackdown on short-term lets such as Airbnb after the entire city was officially designated as a control zone.

The Scottish Government today said it had signed off on plans put forward by City of Edinburgh Council for the authority to become Scotland's first Short-Term Let Control Area.

It means all new short-term let conversions must first obtain planning permission, allowing the council to limit the numbers getting approval.

Landlords warned the change was "wholly disproportionate" and would damage the toruism industry.

The capital is home to around a third of all short-term lets in Scotland, and residents have long complained about anti-social behaviour and the erosion of communities as a result. 

SNP Housing Secretary Shona Robison said: “Edinburgh was the first local authority in Scotland to propose a Short-Term Let Control Area and Scottish Government approval represents a major step forward. 

“We have committed to give local authorities the powers to address concerns about the impact of commercial short-term letting in their communities, should they want to do that. 

“This is an example of that local choice in action – supported by the majority of respondents to the council’s consultation on the proposed designation.

“I recognise the important role which short-term lets play as a source of flexible and responsive accommodation for tourists and workers, which brings many benefits to hosts, visitors and our economy

“However, we know that in certain areas, particularly tourist hot spots, high numbers of lets can cause problems for neighbours and make it harder for people to find homes to live in.

“The Scottish Government considers that the council has adequately considered and responded to concerns raised before seeking approval of the control area designation.”

The changes were passed by the council’s planning committee unanimously earlier this year, while 85 percent of respondents to a consultation backed the move.

Airbnb, one of the world’s leading short-term let platforms, has said stricter regulations could hit the economy hard.

Research by the firm, which would likely be among the worst impacted by more stringent rules, suggested that it could cost the economy as much as £133 million and 7,000 jobs.

However Labour council leader Cammy Day said: “This is the news we have been waiting for after leading the way in campaigning for change.

"I am delighted that Ministers have answered our calls and we look forward to reviewing the full details included in the decision released today.

“It paves the way for Edinburgh becoming the first short-term let control area in Scotland. 

“For far too long, too many homes have been lost in our city to the holiday market. 

“In fact, around a third of all short term lets in Scotland are here in the Capital, so their associated issues of safety, anti-social behaviour and noise have a detrimental effect on many of our residents.

"We will now progress implementing the changes and the next step should be looking at whether we can apply a cap on numbers, too."

The control area is separate from a new countrywide licensing scheme starting shortly.

From October, new owners of short-term lets across Scotland will be required to apply to the local council for a licence to operate, while existing owners will have until April 2023.

Fiona Campbell, Chief Executive of the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers, said: “The ASSC are extremely disappointed that the Scottish Government have chosen to approve City of Edinburgh Council’s proposed city-wide short-term let control area.

"Our members in the capital, who help to generate more than £70m each year, will be rightly concerned about what this means for their livelihood in what is already a challenging regulatory and economic environment.

“Self-catering properties have been a longstanding presence in Edinburgh for decades, providing a vital source of alternative accommodation during major events.

"It is therefore somewhat ironic that this news comes in the same week that many Festival performers and visitors will be arriving in the city.”

“We believe that a city-wide control area is wholly disproportionate.

"As we have warned, the Council’s unevidenced plans are seriously deficient and will simply drive many small businesses to close without achieving their policy objective, as well as damaging Edinburgh’s position as a world leading Festival city.

“It is with deep regret that a key component part of the Scottish tourism industry has once again been completely disregarded by policymakers.

"This move, coupled with the government’s onerous licensing scheme, has the potential to be absolutely devastating for our sector in Edinburgh.”