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by Joseph Anderson
21 January 2022
Local authorities set to increase control over short-term lets

Key safes for short term lets apartments on a wall in Grassmarket, Edinburgh

Local authorities set to increase control over short-term lets

A new licensing scheme for operators of short-term lets has been approved by the Scottish Government, paving the way for local authorities to control the number of such properties in their area.

The new legislation has been particularly welcomed in Edinburgh, which has the highest number of short-term let properties of any local authority area in Scotland.

All short-term let properties will now require a licence to ensure they are safe and the people providing them are suitable, under legislation approved by the Scottish Parliament.

Local authorities will be required to establish a short-term lets licensing scheme by 1 October 2022, and existing hosts and operators will have until 1 April 2023 to apply for a licence.

The legislation was developed in response to concerns raised by residents and communities about the impact of short-term let properties on their local communities, including noise, antisocial behaviour and the impact on the supply of housing in some areas.

The Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government, Shona Robison MSP, said: “This legislation is a significant milestone on our path to bringing in an effective system of regulating short-term lets.

“Our licensing scheme will allow local authorities and communities to take action to manage issues more effectively, without unduly curtailing the many benefits of short-term lets to hosts, visitors and the economy.”

More than a third of Scotland's short-term let properties are believed to be in the capital, according to City of Edinburgh Council officials.

Campaigners say this has exacerbated housing shortages and led to an increase in antisocial behaviour.

Councillors in Edinburgh have also proposed further measures to crack down on holiday rentals and other short-term lets in the city, by creating a "control area" where property owners must acquire planning permission to run a short-term let.

Under the proposals, council officers and councillors would determine whether a short-term let was suitable based on density, residential amenity and housing shortages in the area.

Adam McVey, the SNP leader of Edinburgh city council, said: “This is fantastic news for residents. After our call for this legislative change we worked with the Scottish Government as they consulted on this issue and how the details of a licensing scheme would work.

“I’m really pleased all short-term lets will now need a licence making them much easier to control not only in terms of overall impact on our housing supply but also help us deal with any anti-social behaviour and noise issues.

“It’ll mean whole properties being let out as short-term lets will need to have ‘change of use’ planning permission before they can be granted a licence. This will help to stop homes being taken out of residential use or being let out when they are unsuitable or unsafe.”

Airbnb, one of the main online platforms used by the operators of short-term lets, said it had “long supported clear rules for Scotland”, and had previously put its own proposals to the Scottish Parliament’s local government and communities committee for a digital licensing scheme.

A spokesperson for Airbnb said: “We are committed to being good partners to Scotland and want to work with local authorities to make these rules a success.

“The majority of hosts share their homes occasionally to boost their income and we look forward to collaborating with everyone to support these families and their communities as they recover from the pandemic.”

Airbnb also pointed to research from BiGGAR Economics in 2020, which claimed that Airbnb boosts the Scottish economy by £677m a year and supports more than 33,500 Scottish jobs.

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