An offer to control the increase in the number of properties purchased for Airbnb and other short-term rentals in Badenoch and Strathspey has been well received.
The Highland Councilor agreed on a bold attempt to curb the runaway growth in vacation rentals, which means so many local youth and key workers have not been able to afford their own homes locally.
It will also allow the control of the so-called “party houses”.
The four local councilors had submitted a motion to Thursday’s Highland Council plenary meeting to establish a “short-term rental control area covering all of Badenoch and Strathspey.”
The decision to use the Town Planning Act to strike a balance between the vital local tourism industry and affordable housing was supported at the headquarters in Inverness.
If backed by the Scottish government, it would bring planning enforcement more into play, giving councilors a view of short-term rental applications and the opportunity to have a say.
After supporting the motion, Highland Council Chairman Bill Lobban said: “I am really happy to have the support of my fellow Highland Councilors as we try to do something about the chronic housing shortage in Badenoch and Strathspey.
“My motion means we will ask Scottish government ministers to make the strath a short term rental control area.
“This means that people will need a building permit to turn a house into a vacation rental.
“It will also allow us to solve the serious problems caused by the so-called ‘party houses’.”
There was praise on social media for the move but also a few questions.
Jan Morse said: “Great, but who’s going to ‘watch her’?
Councilor Lobban responded that it will be monitored by the planning system and neighbors will know if a property has a building permit.
Inverness Highland Councilor Ken Gowans said such an area of control was needed for Inverness and other areas as well. He added: “Good motion, well supported.”
Aviemore resident June Armstrong commented, “Well done, Bill. New measures to regulate vacation rentals are badly needed.”
Claire Smith posted: “It’s great and I hope it’s ok. It gives our kids a chance to enter the housing market where they grew up.”
More on this story in next week’s Strathy.