Edinburgh Airbnb owner told to ‘cancel bookings’ as nine short-term rentals refused permission on Albion Road

An Edinburgh Airbnb owner has been ordered to ‘stop advertising the property and cancel any bookings’ by the Scottish government following noise complaints from a ‘disgruntled neighbour’.

An enforcement notice served on Mohamed Shoaira by Edinburgh City Council over an alleged breach of planning controls has been upheld by a Scottish Government journalist after an appeal was launched against the decision.

It comes amid a council crackdown on vacation rentals across the city, with nine short-term rentals (STLs) on the same street being refused permission to operate in the past week.

Planning officers found the four-bedroom property on Albion Road was listed on Airbnb as a ‘central Calton Hill townhouse’ sleeping up to 10 people for a minimum of two nights at a time, which , they said, constituted a “significant change in use”. ‘.

They said using the house as an STL “could potentially result in around 180 changes a year” and argued that it was highly disruptive to neighbors.

Officers added that there had been “multiple calls to police regarding noise and property disturbance issues” between 2019 and 2021.

A document submitted to the Scottish Government by QB Wood architects on behalf of Mr Shoaira says the noise complaints arose ‘shortly after the appellant had a disagreement with a neighbor over a separate issue’.

He added: “The neighbor implicated the authorities; however, the incident was not pursued by authorities. Since this incident, a complaint has been filed regarding this property which resulted in the enforcement notice.

It was also said that the property can accommodate “a maximum of 8 occupants at a time” and is only used for short-term rental for around half of each month.

And Mr Shoaira disputed accusations that the use of the property as an STL was causing unrest to surrounding residents.

“All staying guests are asked to respect the neighbors,” the architect wrote on his behalf. “The house has its own entrance and exit so do not disturb the neighbors at the entrance. The only neighbors are by the dividing walls, there are no neighbors above or below, again this minimizes nuisance.

QB Wood also said that when they started using the property as an STL in 2015, their client “was not aware that planning permission was required”.

But the Scottish Government rejected the appeal and told Mr Shoaira to ‘stop advertising the property and cancel any bookings’.

Under current planning regulations, not all STLs need planning permission to operate, but the council does not allow rentals which have a “significantly adverse effect on living conditions”. lives of nearby residents.

Edinburgh is set to become Scotland’s first short-term rental control area, with new powers awaiting signature by Scottish Ministers, which will require any STL property that has been in operation for less than 10 years and not in use as a permanent residence has a building permit in place.

It is hoped that this could see thousands of properties currently rented out on sites like Airbnb for short-term rental purposes return to residential use.

Prior to the implementation of the new regulations, applications for hundreds of properties across the city were submitted to the council to change their use from residence to short-term rental.

Amid concerns the local authority does not have sufficient resources to handle planning applications for the estimated 10,000 short-term rentals in Edinburgh in the coming months, Edinburgh City Council said it had earmarked £150,000 to ‘help us establish and run Edinburgh’s new short term let checks’.

“We are seeing a high number of scheduling requests and officers will be dealing with them in the usual way, on a case-by-case basis.”

Recent rulings suggest council is taking a hard line against multiple STLs with common stairs; last week retrospective permission was refused for nine flats split between two blocks on Canning Street Lane in the West End, where some residents complained to council about noise pollution and anti-social behavior associated with rentals.

One wrote that ‘partying late at night’ was now part of a ‘difficult situation for residents’.

Meanwhile, Edinburgh City Council is consulting on plans to introduce a licensing system for holiday rentals.

Under legislation passed by the government, STL operators across Scotland will have to apply for a license from local authorities by April 2023 – and the granting of a change of use by the council will be one of the key conditions.

The consultation is collecting the opinions of Edinburgh residents on the new scheme until June 10.

Michael J. Chiaramonte