Edinburgh Airbnbs: Scottish Government rejects MSP's plea for delay to short-term let licensing scheme

Calls for the launch of a licensing system for Airbnb style short-term lets in Scotland to be postponed have been rejected by the Scottish Government.

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Lothian Tory MSP Miles Briggs urged the delay to allow the sector to recover from Covid and the cost of living crisis.

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But Housing and Local Government Secretary Shona Robison said the licensing scheme – due to come into effect on October 1 – would ensure safety standards were met and allow councils to set additional conditions to address concerns in their own area.

Ms Robison told the Scottish Parliament: "Many short-term lets already comply with those conditions. For those that do not, it is important those conditions are met as soon as possible to ensure a level playing field and safety across Scotland.

“We will continue to work with local authorities and, in the summer of 2023, we will review levels of short-term let activity in hotspot areas to assess how the actions that we are taking are working and to ensure that there are no unintended consequences.”

Under the new system, from October 1, new short-term let owners must obtain a licence from their local authority before they can operate as a short-term let.

Scottish Conservative MSP for Lothian Miles Briggs had called for restrictions on Edinburgh Airbnbs to be delayed

While existing hosts have until April 1, 2023 to apply for a licence and can continue operating while their application is being determined. Legislation also requires short-term let accommodation to have planning permission for change of use.

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Mr Briggs said there was confusion about guest houses and bed and breakfasts, with some councils including them in the scheme but, he claimed, the Deputy First Minister telling guest houses in his constituency they were exempt.

The Lothian MSP said: “Does the cabinet secretary not realise now that the legislation is a mess and that there needs to be a pause for councils to implement it properly?”

Ms Robison said the legislation was clear that hotels were excluded from the scheme, but guest houses were not and would require a licence to operate.

The licensing of short-term lets is due to come into effect on October 1. Photo: Lisa Fergusson.
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And she rejected his description of the legislation. She said: “We have had numerous consultations on it; parliament has had ample time to scrutinise it; and widespread consultation has taken place, as well as there being stakeholder input through the stakeholder implementation group.

"Local communities have told us over many years about their safety concerns and the impact that the concentration of short-term lets can have on communities and housing availability. Licensing will allow councils and communities to take action to manage issues more effectively without unduly curtailing some of the benefits of short-term lets for hosting visitors and for the Scottish economy.”

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