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Councils to be given new powers to regulate short-term lets

Holyrood

Councils to be given new powers to regulate short-term lets

Local authorities will be able to implement the new licensing scheme from spring 2021, the government has said

Councils are to be given new powers to regulate short-term lets, including measures to force landlords to require planning permission before listing entire properties, Kevin Stewart has announced.

The Scottish Government says a new licensing scheme will include a compulsory safety requirement covering every type of short-term let.

It is hoped that the scheme will also make it easier for councils to keep track of what is happening in their areas and better deal with local residents’ complaints.

Councils will be able to implement the new licensing scheme from spring 2021, the government has said.

The safety aspect of the law will be mandatory across all council areas but local authorities will also have the power to choose to implement “control areas” to ensure that planning permission will always be required for the change of use of entire properties for short-term lets.

Additionally, the Scottish Government has also said it will “carefully and urgently consider” how short-term lets should be taxed in the future.

The new scheme would work in addition to the proposed Transient Visitor Levy – known as the tourist tax – which is expected to be introduced as a bill later this year.

Local Government minister Kevin Stewart made the announcement in a statement to the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday.

He said: “Short-term lets can offer people a flexible travel option and have contributed positively to Scotland’s tourism industry and local economies across the country.

“However, we know that in certain areas, particularly tourist hot spots, high numbers of short-term lets are causing problems and often make it harder for people to find homes to live in.

“That is why we are empowering local authorities to implement a system that works for their area. By giving councils the power to set conditions around short-term lets licences and put in place planning control areas to tackle hot spots, communities across Scotland will be able to decide what is best for them and their local economy.

“Everybody wants visitors, hosts, neighbours and local residents to be safe. That is why the licensing scheme includes a safety element which will be mandatory across Scotland for all short-term lets.

“Separately, local authorities will be given discretion to include further conditions to help tackle littering or overcrowding of properties.

“These powers will allow local authorities to ensure a safe, quality experience for visitors, whilst protecting the interests of local communities.”

The Scottish Greens local government spokesperson Andy Wightman said: “I am pleased that the minister has finally acted on my long term campaign and informed parliament of his plans to regulate short term lets.

“Those communities who have been adversely impacted by short term lets will be pleased that the government has now committed to introducing a much-needed, long overdue licensing scheme by 2021.

"It’s clear that no licenses should be issued unless proper planning consent is in place, and I am disappointed that the Scottish Government don’t seem to share that view.”

City of Edinburgh Council leader Adam McVey welcomed the announcement, saying: "In 2018, we set up a working group to look at this in detail and provide recommendations, the main one being the need for a regulatory system.

"Since then we’ve been working closely with the Scottish Government on the implementation of a new regulatory system, so I'm delighted that we’ll now be able to take this forward, and soon.

“This news also comes on the back of our successful campaign to introduce a tourist tax which will also make sure that visitors to the city are financially contributing to the services that they use. All of which, are part of a package of measures to better manage the enormous success of our tourist economy."

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