Having survived the usual hordes descending on Edinburgh during the Fringe Festival last weekend, it got me thinking about those who disappear for the month of August in order to cash in on the money that can be made from short term lets of their property.
Is more regulation needed in this ever-growing market? Does regulation even work?
Across the globe, cities alarmed by the explosion of short-term lets have attempted to rein in the likes of Airbnb with regulations. Some have taxed them. Some have limited them to certain areas or types of building. One measure of whether these rules have worked is a reported slowing growth in listings on Airbnb (according to a UBS report in 2017). But other measures show Airbnb reporting significant user growth.
What is clear, however, is the challenge of enforcing regulations, particularly when methods like door knocking or taking photos is just not viable - and too slow for a digital era. Meantime, with Shelter Scotland reporting short term lets in Edinburgh city centre equating to one Airbnb listing for every eleven residents, it's not to difficult to understand why the case for regulation is being made so strongly.
Thousands of Airbnb properties may be operating unlawfully in the Capital as council enforcement struggles to cope with the explosion of short-term lets.