• Thu. May 30th, 2024

VP Colm Hamon warns short term let scheme will worsen student housing shortage

ByKate Jensen

Sep 29, 2023
A picture of a road between two blocks of flats with cars on either side of the road.

In an article published in The Scotsman, University Vice-Principal Colm Harmon cautions that the short term let scheme will worsen accommodation issues for students. 

The Scottish Government’s short term let licensing scheme is set to take effect next week.

The scheme requires hosts offering short term accommodation to obtain a license in order to continue renting out their accommodations, otherwise facing fines and other penalties.

In his article in The Scotsman, University Vice-Principal Colm Harmon criticises the scheme, suggesting that it may add to a housing crisis that has already hit students in Edinburgh particularly hard.

Harmon said: “We are yet to see the impact of the licensing of short-term tenancies, coming into force from October, but it seems at least possible that more properties will be sold and taken out of the rental market”. 

The City of Edinburgh Council’s enforcement of this scheme aims to protect housing options for long term residents. 

More on the Short Term Let Scheme: Edinburgh’s Short-Term Let Licensing Scheme – What is it?  And why is it causing such confusion?: VP Colm Hamon warns short term let scheme will worsen student housing shortage

Long term residents, including students, frequently lose out on housing options when hosts choose to offer lets to tourists, often earning more money than traditional landlords in the process.

When surveyed by the City of Edinburgh Council in late 2021, approximately 88 per cent of survey respondents supported the creation of an area where short term lets are regulated within Edinburgh.

Harmon’s comments reflect broader concerns about cost of living and housing insecurity in the university community.

In EUSA’s 2022 Cost of Living Letter, Isi Williams, former VP community, highlights how students’ rent often exceeds their total loan availability meaning students often choose between rent and other necessities.

She said: “Students at a world-class institution like ours should never have to worry about being able to keep a roof over their head and yet while surveying students during outreach, I found that the second biggest concern for our students, following paying bills, is paying rent”.  

Harmon in his article suggested that building more student accommodation options, perhaps on existing university-owned land, could mitigate Edinburgh’s student housing shortages.

He acknowledged however, the complexity of the issues ahead, he added: “We cannot build our way out of this long-term crisis”.

North Bridge, New Town, Edinburgh, Scotland” by Billy Wilson Photography is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.