Christmas is a time of goodwill to all…except Glasgow’s Air BnB renters it seems because sneaking in, just before Scrooge sent the young boy off to buy the fattest goose he could find, a landmark court case upheld a ban on Air BnB lets in flatted developments in Glasgow.
It has hardly been publicised at all but in February 2017 in snappily entitled “SG10 Meeting Housing Needs SUPPLEMENTARY GUIDANCE” document, the Council announced that Short-term lets would not be allowed within buildings that have a communal entranceway without planning permission being granted for change of use.
The council maintain that they have not introduced new rules, simply clarified the existing one “Under Class 9 of the Use Classes Order, a house remains in use as a house whether it is the sole or main residence of the occupants or not. This sets a context that a house being used on a short-term basis does not constitute a change of use.” Therefore stand-alone dwelling houses will be exempt from these restrictions. It is flatted developments however where there has been the greatest increase in short-term lets and it is here where GCC have clarified the rules in a manner which will be detrimental to Air BnB and other Short-term let providers – “Residential flats do not fall within Use Class 9 and are defined as Sui Generis (outwith a specific Use Class). The use of a flat as short-stay accommodation has the potential to result in conflict with mainstream residential flats in a block through regular influx of temporary residents as well as increased pressure on infrastructure and shared space. Evidence has shown that amenity issues can arise through the introduction of short-stay accommodation and illustrates the need to effectively control the activity taking place.”
This does not mean that short-term lets are finished in Glasgow. Those doing it on an ad-hoc or one-off basis will NOT require a change of use and the council have said that they will not be running around and shutting down short-term lets but simply acting on a “complaints led basis.” In other words, if your neighbour knows about the restriction and isn’t happy you’ll get done. If they don’t you won’t!
The start of an AirBnB crackdown is not a surprise. Since their popularity has grown, increasing noises have come from the general holiday accommodation sector and the buy-to-let sector about the restrictions they face compared to the lack of legislation impacting upon the short-term let sector. As a letting agent and property Factor we increasingly hear complaints about the 5am stag and hen party returnees and the associated vomit and carry-out messes left in the communal areas.
It seems that there are some areas which the Council want to become no-go areas for short-term lets. “To protect residential amenity in areas where there are already a significant number of non-residential uses and/or problems of parking and traffic congestion, the change of use of properties to short-stay flats will be strongly resisted in the following Conservation Areas: • Crosshill; • Dennistoun; • Glasgow West; • Park; • St Vincent Crescent; and • Strathbungo.”
Our Director Brian Gilmour will be discussing this when he appears on the Kaye Adams programme this Tuesday (19th February) but in advance we thought we’d ask him for some more detail and hopefully provide some clarity.
Question: what’s the issue with Air BnB in Glasgow?
Answer: It appears that Glasgow city council have now issued ( without any announcement by themselves on their website or to the press ) that they have banned the ability for homeowners to host short stay lets in flats (eg Air BnB).
Question: How did this come to light if it’s not publicised?
Answer: At the end of last year, Glasgow CC won an enforcement order against someone who was renting out their West End flat through Air BnB following complaints from neighbours.
Question: So will this result in a heavy crackdown on short term lets?
Answer: Not really. The council have said that any matters will be dealt with on a “complaints led basis” meaning it will be up to neighbours to complain to the council about it. Short-term lets will still be allowed on a one off basis and owners can get permission by applying for planning permission for change of use but there will be an attitude of the council to refuse in certain conservation areas although they will take cognisance of those areas with high tourist demands.
Question: So is it all properties?
Answer: This mainly affects flats. Planning permission is required where access to the property is via a communal entrance. The council said “The inability of other residents to establish who may be occupying the flat at any given time, and more significantly, the inevitability of permanent residents regularly encountering strangers in communal (but still private) areas of the building, is an indication that the nature of the use of the flat for letting markedly differs from that of other residential flats in the same building.”
Question: So is this the end of AirBnB in Glasgow?
Answer: The fact that this has not been heavily publicised by the council and regulation will be “complaints led” implies to me that Air BnB will continue for quite some time. Most don’t know about it to either stop renting out or complain however, as a Factor and letting agent, the complaints I’ve received from homeowners and landlords about Air BnB properties, it doesn’t surprise me that restrictions are commencing.
Indigo Square manage properties across Glasgow, Lanarkshire and Ayrshire with offices in Glasgow and Largs.
Brian Gilmour is the resident property expert on the BBC Radio Scotland Kaye Adams Programme and can be heard every second Tuesday.