Holyrood committee invites views on proposed licensing scheme for short-term lets

A Holyrood committee is asking the public for their views on plans for owners of Airbnb and short-term let properties in Scotland to require a licence.
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The proposed licensing scheme would impose regulations in a bid to tackle the growth of Airbnb-style rentals in popular tourist areas like Edinburgh.

Under the Scottish Government plans, councils would have until October 2022 to set up a licensing scheme, with all short-term lets licensed by April 2024.

About one-third of all the Airbnb lets in Scotland are in Edinburgh   Picture: Lisa FergusonAbout one-third of all the Airbnb lets in Scotland are in Edinburgh   Picture: Lisa Ferguson
About one-third of all the Airbnb lets in Scotland are in Edinburgh Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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Existing hosts and operators would have to apply for a licence by April 2023.

Ministers had originally hoped to introduce the new law before May’s Holyrood election but pushed the plans back following backlash from some MSPs, including over concerns that traditional bed and breakfasts, which are not seen as causing a problem, would be caught up in the scheme.

The Scottish Parliament’s local government, housing and planning committee is now to consider the proposed legislation and is inviting the public to give their views on the issue.

Committee convener Ariane Burgess said: “The increase in popularity of short-term lets has no doubt brought economic benefits to Scotland.

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“However, what is becoming increasingly clear is that these benefits must be balanced with the need to protect our communities and the safety of those staying in short-term lets.

“The Scottish Government has suggested that this proposed licensing scheme strikes that balance, but we want to know whether you think these measures have got this right.

“Will the introduction of a licensing system ensure that the character of our neighbourhoods are protected as well as protecting those staying in short-term lets? We want you to let us know.”

A survey has been launched which will run until Friday October 29. People can submit their views online.

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About one-third of all short-term lets in Scotland are in the Capital and there have long been concerns over the impact on local communities, especially around the city centre.

The city council is already running its own consultation on separate plans to declare the whole of Edinburgh a short-term let control area under new legislation giving the authority specific powers to crack down on Airbnb-style accommodation.

Edinburgh has led the way in calls for local authorities to have more powers to control short-term lets.

If the control area goes ahead, all residential properties, which are not an owner's principal home, being used as short-term lets in their totality would require planning permission for change of use.

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People who rent out rooms in their house or let their property while they are on holiday would not generally be affected by the new rules.

But the Association of Scotland's Self-Caterers (ASSC), has said the proposals to make the whole city a control area are "wholly disproportionate".

And it has advocated a registration scheme, with mandatory health and safety criteria, rather than licensing.

Last month, representatives of the ASSC, together with Airbnb, the Scottish B&B Association, and the UK Short Term Accommodation Association resigned fro a Scottish Government working group on short-term lets, accusing it of ignoring their proposals for a registration system, which they said would be more workable, proportionate and cost-effective.

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