Fury as Scots Lib Dem leader hikes up rent on his Airbnb shed for Edinburgh Festival

Alex Cole-Hamilton
-Credit: (Image: PA)

Scots Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton has hiked the rent on his Airbnb for the Edinburgh Festival.

Cole-Hamilton makes £10,000 a year by renting out what’s described as a shed in the back garden of his home in the west of the capital.

But he’s planning to charge guests a premium for the privilege of staying there during the August festival season, which sees guests and performers scrambling for places to stay in the city.

Cole-Hamilton had ­previously used it to house a Ukrainian refugee as part of a government scheme.

The Airbnb online listing describes the shed as a “cosy self-contained cabin” and “utterly private, beautifully built, warm and welcoming”. It can be rented for £151 a night in July but visitors in August pay £216 a night.

Eilidh Keay, of tenants' union Living Rent ­Edinburgh, said: “Alex Cole-Hamilton’s decision to let out his shed for £216 a night during a local and national housing emergency is beyond belief.

“People should not be forced out of the city they call home due to the explosion in short-term lets.”

Green MSP Ariane Burgess said: “When large parts of a city become overrun with expensive holiday lets, it upsets the balance of communities.”

The Liberal Democrats’ UK general election manifesto promised to “give local ­authorities new powers to control second homes and short-term lets in their areas”.

While councils already have more powers in Scotland than in England and Wales, Cole-Hamilton has been largely silent on the issue, despite representing a constituency with high rents and large numbers of Airbnbs.

Since a change in the law last year, Airbnb landlords have had to apply for licences to rent out their properties.

Edinburgh is also a “short-term let control area”, meaning that homeowners must now apply for planning permission to run their property as a holiday home.

A spokeswoman for the ­Scottish Lib Dems said: “Alex is fully licensed as a homeshare operator, not a landlord, and as such this would not be suitable for a long-term tenancy.

“Alex does not own any other properties or flats beyond his family home.

“Parts of Edinburgh have been hollowed out by short-term lets and Alex ­Cole-Hamilton campaigned for new regulations.”

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