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Edinburgh Fringe warns of urgent threat posed by crackdown on short-term lets

In a statement on Friday 28 October, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society warned of the risk the city’s new short-term let policy poses to Fringe performers.

The criticism comes after a mass feedback drive of artists in the wake of the 2022 Fringe.  

Scotland’s first short-term let control area came into effect in Edinburgh in September and requires short-term lets to gain planning permission. 

The Scottish Housing Secretary, Shona Robison, argued that it would tackle the “high numbers of lets [which] can cause problems for neighbours and make it harder for people to find homes to live in.”

The move has been widely welcomed by residents, with 88% of respondents supporting it during consultation.

However, Short Term Accommodation Association are concerned that it will have a “negative impact on Edinburgh’s tourism economy” and “damage a valuable income stream”.

The Fringe Society accepts the legitimate need to ease housing issues but believes the policy “will undoubtedly also impact both the availability and affordability of temporary accommodation in Edinburgh in August.” 

Ticket sales fell over 25% from 2019’s record figures as the festival was hit by changing audience patterns, industrial action and a “crisis point” in affordable accommodation. 

Already high prices skyrocketed in August as festivalgoers flocked back to Edinburgh after the festival’s two-year hiatus, causing accommodation prices to skyrocket during August. 

This leaves the festival’s performers and venues struggling to accommodate rising prices. 

Gilded Balloon, a ‘Big Four’ Fringe venue, told the Guardian that: 

“This year’s was the hardest fringe we’ve ever done. We’re doing what we can to manage additional costs.”

“There are rumblings among artists that unless costs come down, particularly accommodation, they’re not coming back.”

Huge demand for accommodation is also a problem for Edinburgh’s residents, particularly students.

Edinburgh University Students’ Association’s Vice President of Community, Isi Williams, told the Student that: 

“The reduction of flats in the private rental market has led to sharp increases in rent… We are seeing more and more instances where students are being left homeless or forced out of the city due to escalating rents.”

“We also hear every year of student tenants being evicted during the Fringe Festival for Landlords to capitalise on the high profits from Short-Term Lets.” 

The Fringe Society believes that “a win-win” for both Edinburgh residents and the festival’s performers is possible. 
A round-table of key officials has been convened to “develop positive and sustainable solutions” that would allow Edinburgh’s iconic festival to continue well beyond this year’s 75th anniversary.