Short-term lets operators without a license could face a maximum fine of £50,000 under Scottish Government plans to tackle the explosion of Airbnbs in Scotland.
The high fine limit is part of a raft of new detail revealed by the Scottish Government as part of their final consultation on their proposals to introduce a licencing regime to regulate the holiday let market.
The £50,000 fine could be imposed if short-term let operators do not have a licence, with a fine of up to £10,000 possible if they are found to be breaching a licence condition.
However, local authorities will be explicitly banned from limiting the number of nights a short-term let can be rented out during a year, with any limit described as creating a “wasted resource” through empty properties.
A temporary licencing scheme is also outlined in the proposals, with councils potentially given the power to allow for host-certified licences to be granted for no more than 28 days a year, leaving open the possibility of a huge spike in difficult-to-enforce licences around major events such as the Edinburgh Fringe.
No details on a promised tax review were included in the plans, with those proposals still to be finalised.
Other aspects of the plans include matching the requirements for fire safety with private tenancies, mandatory meetings with guests on arrival or curfews on departure and arrival times to minimise anti-social behaviour and the need for key boxes.
Short-term let hosts will also have to outline maximum occupancy levels for their property, including a limit on the number of people in the property while it is being let in an attempt to reduce the prevalence of party flats.
As part of the application process, Airbnb operators will be asked for details on who owns the property and will be required to pass the fit and proper person test, and confirm if they have the relevant planning permission if it is required.
In addition, a grace period of up to two years could be put in place by councils to allow existing short-term let owners to apply for licences while continuing to operate.
The proposals have been released as part of the final consultation for the new rules which should be in place and enforceable by April 2021 if passed by the Scottish Parliament.
Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said: ”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.”
The consultation has opened today on the Scottish Government website here, and is open for responses until October 16.