What The Dickins: A Tale Of Edinburgh City

Dickins Six Dynamic Solutions for Edinburgh Short Term Letting

As a company, Dickins has spent 24 years engaging positively in the world of short term letting in Edinburgh. We have always been respectful, helpful and caused no issues for neighbours. We have let homes which would otherwise remain empty. We have provided a professional and trustworthy service for a great many people who need temporary accommodation in Scotland’s capital city.

So, we find the negative narrative and the demonising of our sector to be depressing and demoralising. Dickins is a business that Edinburgh should be proud of. And we are not alone. There are many other businesses and hard working individuals running excellent legitimate businesses here. Dynamic solutions are needed and Dickins has six real world solutions which will solve issues and change the narriative.

 

Dickins six dynamic solutions for Edinburgh short term letting

We now face planning changes voted by the City of Edinburgh Council which have the potential to make our business unviable. There has been a complete lack of positive, simple, solution focused discussion about my industry and so we have created the Dickins Six Dynamic Solution for Edinburgh Short Term Letting with the aim of engaging with stakeholders and turning the conversation around.

These dynamic solutions are simple, proactive steps to recognise the importance of short-term lets to the local economy, focusing on achieving a positive and peaceful coexistence for local communities, leading to a sustainable future for the sector and the city as a whole.

Tourism can bring a wealth of economic, sustainable, social and cultural benefits to our communities and cities, supporting resilience and stimulating job creation.

We endorse the First Minister’s comment in Scotland’s Outlook 2030 that “an innovative, resilient and welcoming tourism industry is vital, not only for Scotland’s future prosperity but for Scotland’s place in the world.” Edinburgh’s professional self-catering sector want to play our part in achieving that objective.

Here our Managing Director, Louise Dickins, highlights six simple solutions to stop any issues with short term lets in the city:-

  • Noise Monitoring using Roomonitor and their We Respect seal – 99% of noise complaints are handled successfully in less then 30 minutes.
  • Grandfather rights for professional local agents who have been letting respectfully for 10 years.
  • Minimum stays
  • Maximum occupancy appropriate to the property
  • An alternative to lockboxes used for tenement buildings
  • Adherence to nationally recognised Code of Conduct

Noise Monitoring using Roomonitor and their We Respect Seal

Dickins six dynamic solutions for Edinburgh short term letting

1. Noise monitoring – solving noise issues for neighbours

Roomonitor was created in Barcelona in 2015 to resolve the exact problem Edinburgh currently faces – noise causing issues for neighbours. It’s an excellent example of the industry self regulating to find proactive solutions. In Barcelona, Roomonitor has allowed the narrative to be completely turned around, so that short term lets are no longer seen as the bad guys and instead their importance to the local economy is the highlight. This game changing product has done the same in Paris and Madrid – all top cities for tourism like Edinburgh. Roomonitor is used by 60% of STL’s in Barcelona and across all three cities 99% of noise complaints are handled successfully in less than 30 minutes.

Roomonitor recognizes not only obvious noise like parties but also noise that guests may not realise can be heard by neighbours like load TV, a dinner with people talking noisily. Neighbours have details for Roomonitor, but the system is set up so that in the vast majority of cases, noise is dealt with before neighbours have reason to complain. Roomonitor has guests details and contacts them directly when the system recognises elevated noise levels. Across all three cities 99% of noise complaints are successfully dealt with within 30 minutes. Noise sensitivity levels can be adjusted to suit each home and neighbour situation.

Their WeRespect certification is seen as a benchmark for social sustainability. Certification is awarded for:-

  • 24/7 noise monitoring
  • Care and respect for the environment with responsible use of energy and waste handling
  • Respecting common areas – ensuring buzzers are clearly labelled and bevaviour in common areas is respectful.

The Association of Scotland’s Self Caterers (ASSC) organised a presentation by Roomonitor on 17th March 2022 and the reaction from everyone present was very positive. It’s seen as a game changing product. Roomonitor would be happy to present their solution  to The City of Edinburgh Council for consideration as a mandatory solution for all operators and hosts. This GDPR compliant product could be used to resolve other situations for councils in Scotland like noise in HMO’s and noise complaints for council tenants.

Grandfather rights for professional local agents who have let in the city for 10 years or longer.

Dickins six dynamic solutions for Edinburgh short term letting

2. Grandfather rights – agents in Edinburgh should be given them too.

Legitimate businesses who have been working successfully and professionally in this sector for 10 years or longer, providing a vital service for the city, should be given grandfather rights in the same way that a single operator gains grandfather rights. Then Edinburgh Council can feel confident that all short lets in the city are managed professionally by a local agent based in the city or individuals, all of whom have a proven track record of being safe pairs of hands and a credit to the city. It makes no sense to ignore their expert knowledge of the sector and their track record of letting successfully and with respect, causing no issues for their local communities.   

A professional agent will do nothing to jeopardise their grandfather status because too much is at stake.

Short term lets are a mobility oriented sector crucial to cities facilitating growth. For example Dickins lets to:-

  • Blue chip companies relocating staff here and needing staff to be present in their Edinburgh office for short periods of time.
  • Individuals relocating to the city whilst they look for long term accommodation.
  • Long term letting overspill. Tenants frequently extend flexibly with us when they can’t find long term accommodation.
  • Venues and agents working in the Edinburgh Festivals and needing accommodation for longer than four weeks as well as visitors coming to Edinburgh to be in the audience.
  • Relocation companies.
  • Film companies for their staff whilst working from the new film studios in the city.
  • Local families who need temporary accommodation whilst they have insurance or renovation work done at home.
  • Families who want to holiday affordably in the city and would not stay in a hotel.
  • Visiting academics and Fulbright Scholars who often travel with their families.
  • People with allergies and autism who need to be able to control the environment they are staying in.

Currently self catering accommodation is the choice these companies and individuals are making. Remove that choice and the city will not be able to function properly and the economy will be impacted.

“I’ve been running The Edinburgh Address for 15 years. We are a similar business to Dickins and we wholeheartedly support their six dynamic solutions for Edinburgh short term letting. We need to change the negative narrative and these simple real world solutions are a great way of doing that.” Anna Morris, The Edinburgh Address

Minimum Stays

Dickins six dynamic solutions for Edinburgh short term letting

3. Minimum stays – use minimum stays as a way of controlling issues

Our experience is that the shorter the stay, the more likely there are going to be issues. If there are issues in a self-catering unit, the council could impose minimum stays whether that’s 3, 4,5 or 7 nights. Dickins have several homes which have set a 21 day minimum stay.

Maximum Occupancy

Dickins six dynamic solutions for Edinburgh short term letting

4. Maximum occupancy – no more than two adults per bedroom

It is obvious that when there are too many people staying in a property, it is far more likely that there will be problems. Multiple beds in a room leading to insufficient facilities like living space and bathrooms should not be allowed in residential settings and should be looked at on a case by case basis. Over occupancy can be considered a material change of use and should not be allowed. We would recommend that there is a maximum of two adults in a bedroom and that only one sofa bed can be used per property.

An alternative to lockboxes on communal stairs

Dickins six dynamic solutions for Edinburgh short term letting

5. Alternative to lockboxes for communal stairs

Lockboxes are needed for carers, but for short term lets they should not be used for apartments within communal stairwells. Contactless smart locks are a great alternative to keys.

Owners/agents should demonstrate they have an alternative key collection set up whether e.g. meet and greet service, key safe in local businesses/hotels, keyboxes by agents office etc.

Adherence to a nationally recognised Code of Conduct

Dickins six dynamic solutions for Edinburgh short term letting

6. Embrace the ASSC Code of Conduct

The 2017 Code of Conduct developed by The Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers in conjunction with The City of Edinburgh Council and the Scottish Government Expert Panel on the Collaborative Economy should be adhered to. At the time it was drafted platforms such as Airbnb were also involved in the creation of the code. It should be actively promoted so that agents, hosts and operators are aware of the compliance requirements and adhere to them.

Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers Chief Executive, Fiona Campbell, said:
“I’ve had the pleasure of knowing and working with Dickins for many years and they are experts in Edinburgh and its self-catering industry.

“These proposals, especially embracing our Code of Conduct, are most welcome and offer the bespoke, considered, and proportionate solutions we need to ensure that Edinburgh is a city for everyone.

“I am delighted to offer them our support and call on Edinburgh councillors and other lawmakers to give them the due consideration they deserve.”

Why Dickins six dynamic solutions to Edinburgh short term letting are the answer

We believe that the Dickins six dynamic solutions to Edinburgh short term letting will eradicate issues with short term lets in Edinburgh, allowing legitimate professionals to continue providing the world class service they have for decades and importantly changing the narrative around short term lets in the city, away from them being seen as bad guys to recognising us as a mobility oriented sector crucial to facilitating growth in the city.

Thank you for reading our blog. Please share it with anyone who you think can help our cause, or who needs convincing that there are simple solutions to turn this conversation around so that our city recognises and celebrates, the important job professionals working in self catering do for the city.

Louise Dickins

 

13 Comments

  • Jason Redman

    April 25, 2022 at 8:17 pm

    Hi Louise,

    I wholly support your comments and suggestions (such as a minimum short stay period, 3, 5 or 7 nights) and also the noise monitors (what a great idea!).

    The rhetoric about so called rogue landlords, party flats and holiday accommodation within shared stairs (as being wholly inappropriate) is completely overblown and dismisses the vast number of owners, agents and flats that are thoughtfully and professionally run.

    The policy (if implemented) will certainly damage years of hard work to build the short term self catering industry and it will severely damage the City’s tourist economy / income and local jobs.

    Hotels alone cannot cater for the numbers of tourists wanting to visit our City. Having a ‘home from home’ in a responsibly run self catering flat caters for, in particular, visiting ‘families’ (who would simply not stay or afford multiple hotel rooms) and also encourages ‘longer stays from visitors ‘ in our Scottish Capitol (which is a tourist goal).

    April has been one of the busiest months in the City (that I can remember) which is greatly supported by the availability of self contained holiday let accommodation.

    It appears that CEC does not care about the abject hardship to many City Centre businesses during the successive lockdowns (over the past 2 years). Our first chance to recover and to be hit by a restrictive policy to ‘curb excessive tourism!’ (apparently!).

    Businesses in the Old Town rely almost entirely on tourist numbers being able to access the City and let’s not get too sentimental about hollowing out of communities. The Old Town, for example, has been an entertainment and tourist hot spot for some 20 years, i.e. well before AirBnb and everything within the Old Town has since been built up to support tourism (indeed many of the shops owned by CEC have been let to tourist oriented businesses, what hipocracy!).

    The current government / CEC plans to utilise all planning and licencing powers available to them to ‘outlaw’ holiday lets (why don’t they just admit this is the policy???). The plans are extremely short sighted and I forecast that this will damaging businesses, jobs and the local economy.

    In summary, CEC has a misplaced utopian vision, dreamt up by idealistic Councillors who frankly have no idea of the real world, no care for the damage it will cause and no money to deal with the unintended consequences.

    ASSC and everyone in the industry / supply chain needs to come together as one group, but I’m really not confident that anyone will listen in either senior or local government.

    Reply

  • Kate Comins

    April 9, 2022 at 12:08 pm

    An intelligent, thoughtful and positive response to an unintelligent and short sighted move by the Scottish Government. I very much hope that some middle ground can be found and working together we can find a solution that benefits the city of Edinburgh, its residents, communities and tourists. Thank you Dickins.

    Reply

    • Dickins

      April 10, 2022 at 4:17 pm

      Thank you Kate. We very much hope so too.

  • Katrina Lindsay

    April 8, 2022 at 12:38 pm

    These are excellent proposals !!. They all make total sense. I really hope the council or those you have the power can see the practical solutions outlined above and solve the issue this way rather than blanket bans on all.

    Reply

    • Dickins

      April 8, 2022 at 4:54 pm

      Thank you very much Katrina. Let’s hope common sense wins the day.

  • Veronica Ross

    April 8, 2022 at 10:50 am

    Congratulations on being so proactive on the letting situation… you are true professionals!
    You could teach Bath a thing or two on how to deal with the disruption to neighbourhoods caused by short term letting!

    Reply

    • Dickins

      April 8, 2022 at 4:53 pm

      Oh thank you Veronica. Many thanks, Louise

  • Bruce Lindsay

    April 8, 2022 at 10:21 am

    A truly excellent article which provides sensible solutions to Edinburgh Council’s fears. This is the way forward on a win/win basis for the success of the Edinburgh tourist industry and our local economy.

    Well done Louise

    Reply

    • Dickins

      April 8, 2022 at 4:53 pm

      Thank you very much Bruce. Your support is much appreciated.

  • Henrietta Thewes

    April 8, 2022 at 10:15 am

    Very sound recommendations . Fingers X’d that Edinburgh City Council will have the foresight to get the picture and take appropriate action..

    Reply

    • Dickins

      April 8, 2022 at 4:52 pm

      Thanks so much Henrietta. I’m crossing my fingers too and anything else that crosses!

  • Fiona Campbell

    April 7, 2022 at 12:08 pm

    Hear Hear!

    Reply

    • Dickins

      April 8, 2022 at 4:51 pm

      Thank you Fiona! And thanks for the ASSC support in sharing our solutions.

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