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AirBnB Highland hotspots could face crackdown in bid to ease housing crisis; MSP Kate Forbes backs move on short-term lets

By Hector MacKenzie

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Kate Forbes has spoken out on the pressure on housing in the Highlands.
Kate Forbes has spoken out on the pressure on housing in the Highlands.

A ROSS-SHIRE MSP has backed moves to limit the number of short-term lets in the Highlands in a bid to ease the housing crisis.

Dingwall-based Kate Forbes made her remarks in the wake of a Scottish Government announcement that Highland Council will be given new powers to licence and limit the number of short-term lets.

Ms Forbes said the number of short-term lets in Scotland, and especially the Highlands, has risen dramatically in recent years and in some areas locals are finding it increasingly difficult to find homes to live in.

Last year, a Scottish Government study showed that almost one in five dwellings on the Isle of Skye is now an AirBnB (1083 listings for 5813 dwellings).

Other Highland hotspots included Wester Ross, Strathpeffer and Lochalsh (10.73 per cent of all dwellings), Caol and Mallaig (10.70 per cent), Aird and Loch Ness (9.87 per cent), Fort William and Ardnamurchan (9.74 per cent) and Badenoch and Strathspey (7.56 per cent).

The national average was 1.2 per cent.

Speaking in Holyrood today, Housing Minister Kevin Stewart outlined the Scottish Government’s plans to establish a licensing scheme for short-term lets and a review of the tax paid by the properties – as well handing councils the power to introduce "short-term let control areas" where the number of AirBnB properties can be restricted through planning permission.

Ms Forbes, who is MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, said: “The last few years have highlighted the need in the Highlands for balance between the economic benefits of tourism and the impact on local communities.

“The pressure on housing, employment and infrastructure, alongside the significant economic boost of tourism has required a new approach to regulation.

“In the Highlands short-term lets such as AirBnB have undoubtedly restricted the number of properties available for those in need of home in which to live. This is exacerbating the pressures on housing, due to the historic prevalence of second homes and high prices. Building more homes is part of the solution, but so also is looking at managing the current demands better.

“The proposals announced by the Scottish Government will give Highland Council new powers to control the number of short-term lets in the local community and ensure they make a fair contribution to the services they use.

“The SNP has outlined a robust and proportionate approach to tackling this serious issue. This isn’t about administrative bureaucracy, it is about retaining and attracting people in the Highlands.”

* Do you agree? Do you think you have been affected? Email us at newsdesk@spp-group.com

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