Short-term Lets to be Licensed in Scotland

Short-term Lets to be Licensed in Scotland

10:04 AM, 9th January 2020, About 3 years ago 9

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Scottish Government Press Release confirming plan to implement regulation of the short-term letting sector through licensing. Despite the consultation feedback drawing a distinction between “professional” letting and occasional sharing of a room in home it appears both may have to be licensed.

Although at the discretion of Local Authorities, the opportunity to generate income is likely to be taken up by many. Also, no more hiding income as proposals include plans to ensure tax paid.



Councils empowered to introduce safety and control measures.

Local authorities are to be given new powers to regulate short-term lets where they decide this is in the interests of local communities.

Housing Minister Kevin Stewart announced measures in the Scottish Parliament to provide local authorities with the ability to implement a licensing scheme for short-term lets from spring 2021. This will enable councils to know and understand what is happening in their area, improve safety and assist with the effective handing of complaints.

The licensing scheme will include a new mandatory safety requirement that will cover every type of short-term let to ensure a safe, quality experience for visitors. It will also give councils the discretion to apply further conditions to address the concerns of local residents. Councils will be able to designate control areas to ensure that planning permission will always be required for the change of use of whole properties for short-term lets.

Additionally, Ministers have committed to carefully and urgently consider how short-term lets will be taxed in the future to ensure they make an appropriate contribution to local communities and support local services. The approach taken to short-term lets will complement the Transient Visitor Levy Bill, which will be introduced later this Parliament.

Local Government Minister Kevin Stewart said:

“Short-term lets can offer people a flexible travel option and 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 short-term lets are causing problems and often make it harder for people to find homes to live in.

“That is why we are empowering local authorities to implement a system that works for their area. By giving councils the power to set conditions around short-term lets licences and put in place planning control areas to tackle hot spots, communities across Scotland will be able to decide what is best for them and their local economy.

“Everybody wants visitors, hosts, neighbours and local residents to be safe. That is why the licensing scheme includes a safety element which will be mandatory across Scotland for all short-term lets. Separately, local authorities will be given discretion to include further conditions to help tackle littering or overcrowding of properties.

“These powers will allow local authorities to ensure a safe, quality experience for visitors, whilst protecting the interests of local communities.”

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11:56 AM, 9th January 2020, About 3 years ago

Anybody know how this is supposed to dovetail with HMRC's rent-a-room scheme?

Paul Maguire

12:54 PM, 9th January 2020, About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by JJ at 09/01/2020 - 11:56
I don't think Rent-a-Room Scheme will be affected by this Legislation but AirBNB probably will if whole properties are being rented out for festive and holiday periods. With no min or max rental period I think some effort had to be made to level the field whilst at the same time enabling Councils to get more revenues through increased licensees and the Scottish Government more tax. At least the Tories admit to being Capitalists....the others just pretend not to be.

Paul Maguire

13:01 PM, 9th January 2020, About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Paul Maguire at 09/01/2020 - 12:54
Oops. Sorry JJ, I'd missed the "occasional sharing of a room in home it appears both may have to be licensed" bit but I'd be surprised if it will apply as the end result in the equality game will be the licensing off all homes. Quite Orwellian really.


18:27 PM, 9th January 2020, About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Paul Maguire at 09/01/2020 - 13:01
I know. I appreciate the pressure the Scottish government may be under in Edinburgh, given the impact that AirBNB has had in Edinburgh. But one of the best things about the rent a room scheme is that it has a light touch and increases the availaibility of accommodation when we are told that there is a shortage.

A heavy-booted, Orwellian approach is likely to dissuade people from sharing their homes, decrease the amount of available accommodation and make it harder for people to find accommodation for work. So this will make the labour market less flexible.

Paul Maguire

21:06 PM, 9th January 2020, About 3 years ago

It did strike me as strange when they introduced no minimum period on new leases as it became impossible to calculate lease voids in a year and therefore rent levels but now the decision seems to be just the first step in a larger plan. I think I was wrong in assuming that rent-a-room wouldn't be affected. Sounds like any resident landlord will have to register and be subject to local council regulations. Currently I think it only applies to those who take in more than one other person [effectively an HMO]. I won't be surprised if landlords then have to pay extra [on top of Council Tax] for council services. Luckily I hadn't thought about this earlier when I was in "rant-mode".

Jireh Homes

9:54 AM, 10th January 2020, About 3 years ago

Although the Press Release lacking in detail it appears the intent is that all "AirBnB type" hosts will have to be licenced, with those who occasionally share a room in their house exempt from some controls. AirBnB are on the ball and have since issued a mailing on this Release to their hosts.


11:38 AM, 10th January 2020, About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Jireh Homes at 10/01/2020 - 09:54
The HMRC rent-a-room scheme is a good thing. It encourages flexibility, for example if you have to work away, deal with a temporary relationship breakdown, or family breakdown, or the need of one part of a family to move away when other family members need to stay put. Relationship breakdown is one of the causes of homelessness. The only problem with the HMRC rent-a-room scheme is that it is restricted to one person.

When you do this kind of thing there can be 'unintended consequences' and ideally whatever the Scottish government does won't adversely affect working families, single parent families or others who need short-term accommodation. Penalising people who share their acccommodation would not be a positive move; hopefully they'll give this some thought before weilding the big stick.

Paul Maguire

13:17 PM, 10th January 2020, About 3 years ago

To be fair though, property owners who use the rent-a-room scheme don't do so for altruistic reasons. Why shouldn't they be brought in to compliance with minimum standards and safety? They still keep the tax-free rent. There has been quite a surge in Edinburgh with live-in landlords in the last couple of years [my research only goes as far as noting the increase on Spare-room adverts]. So far as I'm aware, tenants have less protection from the Council in these situations. I seem to have done a bit of a u-turn on this lol.


13:23 PM, 10th January 2020, About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Paul Maguire at 10/01/2020 - 13:17
Because faced with the heavy-hand of bureaucracy, the possibility of attracting a charge to CGT and all the other stuff associated with being a landlord it just won't be worth if for the amount you save via the rent-a-room scheme. They just won't bother and that won't be in the public interest in a market where we need flexibility.

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