A FLAT owner who was refused permission to let the property out for ‘short-term’ use has appealed to Scottish Ministers, after planners said that its appearance on Airbnb’s website meant it was not comparable with residential living.

East Lothian Council planners refused to issue a certificate of lawfulness allowing the owners of the first-floor flat in the Red House, Dirleton, to rent it out as a short-term residential let during the year without applying for a change of use.

They said that, while the use of the flat as short-term holiday accommodation for a maximum of four guests would not be "too dissimilar" to the number of residents which could occupy it as a long-term use, the fact it was advertised on the holiday rental platform meant movements in the property were "incomparable" with residential use.

Refusing the certificate, planners said: “The property is advertised by a holiday letting agency (Airbnb) and it appears to be let out continuously throughout the year, with most stays spanning between two and seven nights.

“Based on this information, it is considered that the use of the applicant’s first-floor flat for short-term holiday let accommodation constitutes a material change of use, requiring planning permission, where a lawful use cannot otherwise be demonstrated.”

'Material change of use'

The owners had applied for the certificate to show they did not need a change of use for the flat.

In an appeal to Scottish Ministers, they say that the flat is only let out for 25 per cent of the year and produce supporting statements backing its use from other residents on the block of four flats.

They are arguing that residential flats are classed under the ‘sui generis’ type of housing and therefore there is no "specific use class for short-term residential letting", arguing that if a change of use has occurred, it falls under a 'sui generis' use.

They say: “The appeal is based on the ground that the operation of the property as short-term holiday let does not constitute a material change of use.

“The appellant argues that the use of the property for short-term residential letting is not development and does not entail a material change of use from its existing classification as sui generis residential flat.”

The appeal is currently open for public comments on the DPEA website.