Airbnb continues to work with Scotland for fair home sharing regulation

Over the past year, Airbnb has continually engaged with the Scottish Government and Edinburgh City Council as well as participating on the Scottish Expert Advisory Panel on the Collaborative Economy to champion fair, clear and effective home sharing rules as the leading responsible player in the industry. In 2018*, we redoubled our efforts to work with our host community and the Government to ensure home sharing can continue to grow responsibly.

Home sharing is great for Scotland. On average, Scottish hosts earn £3,600 a year via the platform and typically share their space for 38 nights per year, which equates to 3 nights per month. This is lower than the UK average of 50 nights a year. This is just some of the information we’ve included in our submission to the Scottish Expert Advisory Panel on the Collaborative Economy.

As Edinburgh continues to look for what the best regulations for short-term rentals might be, unlike other players, Airbnb wants to champion this effort by supporting Government and City Council officials with information that will better help them to craft effective home sharing rules that work for all, because it’s the right thing to do.

With 496,000 arrivals in the city, Edinburgh was the most popular destination in Scotland for guests in the past year. In addition to some of the country’s richest landmarks, Scotland’s capital is home to 12 different festivals throughout the year. In 2017*, Festival Fringe, which hosted nearly 3,400 performers over a three-week period, broke box office attendance figures with 2.7 million tickets sold (a 9% increase from 2016), illustrating the growing popularity among visitors.

Because Edinburgh enjoys periods of seasonal tourism with peaks observed over key months such as August (when Festival Fringe occurs) or during the Christmas season, we believe that in order to be effective, home sharing regulation must be specific and localised to Edinburgh. This will mean hosts on Airbnb can continue to provide accommodation alternatives for visitors coming to the city, ensuring a fair and healthy tourism offer in Edinburgh.

If excessively restrictive regulations were to be brought in, it would have a big impact for everyday citizens across Scotland and Edinburgh. Marianne, a host in Leith notes that restrictive regulation would negatively impact her as a home sharer adding that, “I’d have to close my room and despite the obvious income drop from a wasted space in my home, I’d have less money to feed into my community and local businesses I’m now able to support.”

Hilary, a pensioner and host in Duddingston who hosts to supplement her state pension and modest savings also expressed concern on overly restrictive regulation being applied to home sharers such as herself. “Heavy restriction across Scotland and Edinburgh would mean two things for me: One, I would be worse off financially which would curtail my enjoyment of life considerably. It would push me back into the workforce, which at 65 would be difficult. Two, I would feel lonely and isolated, as I’ve loved meeting people of all ages and many nationalities who come and stay with me.”

It is apparent that Edinburgh needs clear home sharing rules, not just to protect home sharers and uphold the positive aspects that it entails—a boost in income or the ability to meet people from other areas—but to also protect against unauthorised activity and deter bad actors. We welcome working with all parties to establish fair, simple and transparent rules for home sharers.

*This blog post was updated on February 19, 2019.

Read more about the Airbnb community in Scotland