Oban’s community is taking action to tackle a housing crisis in the town.
A shortage of available homes is becoming a growing problem. Shocking waiting list figures were revealed at a recent Argyll and Bute Council meeting.
There are a staggering 678 people on the housing list for Oban, Lorn and the Isles.
And now Oban Community Council is calling on Argyll and Bute Council to ban short term lets in the town.
The community group believes that landlords turning long-term lets into money-spinning short-term lets is a big part of the problem.
Properties operated on behalf of companies such as Airbnb and Booking.com reduce housing stock for local people. It is also claimed they can make bad neighbours.
Employers are struggling to recruit staff as they can’t find a place to live.
Duncan Martin, a member of Oban Community Council, said they had objected to two recent applications to turn homes into short-term lets.
‘The community council will be objecting to any applications for short term lets in Oban’
And he added: “I think the community council will be objecting to any applications for short-term lets in Oban.
“If the owners of these houses had to let them out for a longer period, and can’t do Airbnb, it would ease the shortage.”
He called on the local authority to take action. Mr Martin said: “They should make a policy decision not to allow short-term lets in a shared close with a common door.
“There are all sorts of people coming in and leaving the outer door unlocked at all times of the day and night.
“These short-stay lets are bad neighbours for permanent residents.
“You get people turning up late at night. It turns into a party house for the weekend or people are just rolling back from the pub late at night making a noise.
“I’m told it is a nightmare for people living in the stair.”
Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for Airbnb said that parties are banned by the company. And they have a zero tolerance for anti-social behaviour.
She said Airbnb is often used as a “catch all” term to describe a number of different types of short-term letting activity.
Airbnb say they want to work with local councils
The spokeswoman added: “The typical Airbnb Host in Scotland shares their home for just less than four nights a month. Nearly half say the extra income helps them afford rising living costs.
“We recognise the historic challenges facing Scotland. We want to work with local authorities on rules that help – not hurt – everyday hosts who rely on the additional income. While giving councils the data they need to take an evidence-based approach to address local housing concerns.”
But Mr Martin insisted: “There are powers under licensing and regulations. It is possible for the council to take a policy decision and tell people not to bother trying.”
He highlighted some of the problems caused by the housing shortage.
Mr Martin said: “There is lots of demand from people coming to Oban to work for months at a time. It can be for a placement at the hospital, doing a course at Sams marine lab or working on a local contract.
“We need these flats for these desperate people.”
There is some hope for the future housing situation. Link Housing Group are close to completing 375 new homes at Dunbeg, outside Oban. The project will eventually add up to 600 houses in the future.
And the group has expressed an interest in acquiring Glencruitten Rise in Oban. Which has space for 100 houses. However this is in the very early stages.
What is Argyll and Bute Council doing about it?
Argyll and Bute Council said it is operating the Scottish Government’s licensing scheme for short term lets. The aim of the scheme is to ensure self-catering accommodation is safe for visitors and to help address any concerns from the local community.
A spokeswoman for the authority said: “Argyll and Bute’s economic success is built on a growing population. We are committed to finding local housing solutions to help grow our population and Argyll and Bute’s economy. This is a cornerstone of our Local Development Plan and Local Housing Strategy.
“We recognise the issue of second home housing and are working with partners to address housing needs across the area. This includes supporting the largest affordable housing programme in decades and more plans to construct housing in the Lorn area.”
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