Industry body calls for mandatory registration scheme for short-term lets

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 19 February 2019 in News

 The Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers has backed the introduction of rent-pressure zones, which it claims would allow local councils to limit the number of holiday lets in areas that meet certain conditions

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Short-term rental properties should come under a mandatory registration scheme in order to provide local authorities with as much information as possible, according to new proposals put forward by a body representing the sector.

With local authorities under pressure to take action to limit the growth of short-term holiday rentals in Scotland’s cities, the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers has released a new policy paper at Holyrood's Private Renting in Scotland event backing the introduction of rent-pressure zones, which it claims would allow local councils to limit the number of holiday lets in areas that meet certain conditions.

Estimates from VisitScotland showing that approximately 17 per cent of all tourist visitors stay in self-catering accommodation, with figures compiled by the Scottish Green Party suggesting there are now 6,200 flats available for short-term letting in Edinburgh, 55 per cent of which where the owner is not present.

Meanwhile, according to the Greens, more than a third of the entire flats or homes advertised are owned by professional landlords, who manage multiple properties across town.

The growth of short-term lets has fuelled calls for a ‘tourist tax’, while in Edinburgh councillors have suggested a transient visitor levy which would include a £2-per-night charge added to the price of any room for the first week of a stay, including Airbnb-style short-term lets.

Meanwhile, under proposed amendments to the Planning Bill, a licence would be required for anyone operating a property on a commercial basis, or for at least 45 days a year.

But with the short-term rental market worth around £723m per year, the ASSC has called for local concerns to be balanced against the economic benefit brought by the sector.

Under proposals contained in the paper in areas of demonstrated housing pressure and where the local authority has designated it a Rent Pressure Zone, whole properties available for over 140 nights of the year would need to apply for a licence from the local authority in which they are situated, and the council would be able to limit the number of licences.

ASSC Chief Executive, Fiona Campbell, said: “I’m delighted to launch the Long-Term Approach to Short-Term Letting paper on behalf of the ASSC.

“This paper represents a good faith contribution to the on-going debate around short-term rentals in Scotland.

“We believe that our suggestions form a model around which we can build consensus from civic Scotland, the public, and our own industry.

“There is a balance to be struck and, in our view, that is what this paper does.

“We look forward to engaging with all parties who care to discuss it with us.”

The ASSC has more than 665 members, operating in excess of 7,000 self-catering properties throughout Scotland.

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