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by Jenni Davidson
14 September 2020
Scottish Government launches plans to regulate short-term lets by April 2021

airbnb sign - Image credit: PA

Scottish Government launches plans to regulate short-term lets by April 2021

Regulation of short-term lets such to ensure properties are safe and do not impact negatively on the local area could be introduced by April 2021.

Plans for new legislation to control short-term lets in Scotland have been launched for consultation by the Scottish Government.

The Scottish Government’s proposals include compulsory licensing of all short-term lets to ensure the accommodation is safe and to tackle issues of noise and anti-social behaviour.

The legislation would also give councils powers to manage pressures on the local housing supply caused by turning whole properties into short-term lets.

If passed by the Scottish Parliament, the regulations would come into force by April 2021.  

This is the second consultation on regulating short-term lets in Scotland.

An earlier consultation in April 2019 looked more generally at the issues around short-term lets and proposed approaches to regulation. 

Consultation events were held throughout Scotland with residents, guests, hosts, platforms, businesses and local authorities and the Scottish Government also commissioned research on the impact of short-term lets on communities in five different areas across the country.

Launching the consultation, housing minister Kevin Stewart said: “Short-term lets can offer people a flexible and affordable accommodation option, and they 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 these arrangements can cause problems for neighbours and make it harder for people to find homes to live in.

“The views and evidence from our previous consultation and research showed broad consensus for some form of regulation. 

“Our proposals will allow local authorities and communities facing the most severe pressures to take action to manage those more effectively from next year. 

“I believe our proposals for a licensing scheme and short-term let control areas are evidence based and right for Scottish circumstances.

“We will be engaging with stakeholders on our detailed proposals over the next four weeks.

“I am confident that our proposals will allow local authorities to ensure a safe, quality experience for visitors whilst protecting the interests of local communities.”

Scottish Greens housing spokesperson Andy Wightman, who has campaigned for regulation of short-term lets in Scotland, said: “This action on regulating short-term lets is long overdue but welcome nonetheless.

“I first published proposals for licensing in February 2018 and it took two years for the Government to eventually agree to introduce the powers in January 2020.

“Today’s consultation document is a comprehensive and detailed outline of what will be required.

“I welcome, for example, the proposal that online accommodation platforms may have to display licence numbers and that planning consent will be a mandatory requirement for a licence.

“However, given that we now know that the vast majority of short-term let properties – in Edinburgh at least – are operating unlawfully, there needs to a commitment to the open data and resources to enable regulations to be enforced and for compliance to be monitored.

“I note also that the commitment made in January to review the tax treatment of short-term lets is absent from this consultation. I hope that can be rectified soon.”

The consultation runs until Friday 16 October and can be found on the Scottish Government website.

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