AirBnB Encouraging ‘Risky’ Short Term Letting in Edinburgh

EDINBURGH homeowners and landlords looking to turn a quick profit through short term letting during the likes of the Festival and Hogmanay are at risk of facing costly pitfalls, according to two leading property experts.

The proliferation of sub-letting, made easier than ever by the use of websites such as AirBnB, is a popular and potentially lucrative option for property owners, especially during the capital’s internationally famous festivals and Hogmanay celebrations.

While headline figures show that the average advertised AirBnB rental in Edinburgh is £2187 per month compared to £986 for long term rent, property owners are being urged to take stock of the hidden costs, risks and the damage posed through a breach in a mortgage agreement.

Neil McInnes, Director with Edinburgh-based Umega Lettings, said: “Buy-to-let mortgages do not allow holiday letting as they require a Short Assured Tenancy, which is a minimum six months, to be in place.

“A special holiday-let mortgage is required and these are not offered by high-street lenders due to the increased risk and uncertainty of holiday lets. Holiday-let mortgages require larger deposits and will likely charge higher interest rates and fees to manage the increased risk.”

“A valuation letter from an ARLA accredited agent is also required, in order to grant the mortgage in the first place and breaching a contract by allowing short term letting will result in the mortgage lender forcing the owner to sell or ultimately repossessing the property.”

While the headline figures can look attractive, Umega Letting does not believe that holiday letting stacks up financially.

Neil added: “At first glance, income figures that show the average advertised AirBnB rental figure certainly look appealing to a landlord.

“However once you factor in the costs associated of holiday letting, such as booking fees, cleaning, council tax, gas, electricity, TV licensing and Wifi, owners would need to achieve 75 per cent occupancy on AirBnB to reach the net rental compared to long-term letting.

“Should occupancy be closer to 50 per cent, suddenly long-term letting is more lucrative by £440 per month, without even considering the expensive insurance that is recommended for short term letting.

“With long-term letting, the legal obligations on the landlord are clearer and the tenant is responsible as the resident of the property, whereas visitors or guests in holiday accommodation expect a higher level of service from their host and take less responsibility for the property as a result.

“In other words, you have people taking less care of the property as they are only in it for a limited time, compared to long-term tenants who want to enjoy comfortable surroundings and décor.”

Complaints from disruptive holiday lets in Edinburgh have prompted some property developments such as the Quartermile to enforce the clause in the deeds of their properties banning holiday lets altogether.

David Marshall, Operations Director at Warners Solicitors & Estate Agents, said: “Sites like AirBnB have made the option of renting a property out as a Festival let more enticing to many homeowners, but it is certainly not something that people should enter into lightly.

“As the figures show, when you factor in some of the additional costs and the likely occupancy rates you will achieve, many landlords would be better off letting their property out through traditional methods.

“For regular homeowners who are thinking of moving out of their property for a short period to make it available for Festival let, it’s vital that they check the terms of their mortgage to ensure that this is permitted.

“They would also have to consider the risks of renting their property out for a short period of time, and how easily they would be able to recover costs of any damage caused by tenants.”

Warners operates three property centres in Edinburgh and is one of the capital’s leading estate agents for property transactions.

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