The Scottish Parliament last week voted to develop a licencing scheme for the short-term let accommodation sector. This legislation will require all such let properties in Scotland to be licenced by their local authority.
Existing hosts and operators will have until 1 April 2023 to apply for a licence for properties that they operate as short-term lets. All short-term lets in Scotland will have to be licensed by 1 July 2024.
Licences will run for three years with fees set by local authorities. Average indicative fees set out by the Government to date are estimated to be between £214 and £426 to cover a three-year licence. Draft guidance can be found here.
The parliament has also voted to pass planning control zone regulations, enabling local authorities to designate key hotspots as ‘short-term let control areas’ where planning permission will be required for short term let properties, following a pilot within the City of Edinburgh. It has now been extended nationally to allow all local authorities to implement if they so wish.
Adam Davies, Savills tourism & leisure specialist in Scotland, said: “A key concern from interested parties has been the ‘one size fits all’ nature of the legislation, which would apply whether you own a glamping pod, a castle or a city Airbnb apartment. If you are a resident in one of Edinburgh’s tenement flats, you may welcome efforts to manage the number of visitors within a concentrated space. However, others will be concerned that regulation in its proposed form will restrict the growth of tourism, especially in rural areas where a flourishing sector is essential to fragile economies.
“In any event, the need for legislation underlines the huge success of Scotland’s tourism sector in terms of its growth and we anticipate the upward trend to continue: the number of people from all over the UK choosing to ‘staycation’ in Scotland’s holiday hotspots has surged during the pandemic and, with travel restrictions easing, the return of overseas visitors will further boost the sector.
“Many property owners across Scotland’s rural and urban areas will hope to benefit from resulting buoyant demand by either continuing to let out their property as holiday accommodation, or entering the market for the first time. Our advice to them is to start the process of securing any required licenses or permissions early. Local authorities may be hard pushed to process a rush of the required short term let applications before the deadline of 1 April 2023 and this could delay owners’ future ability to promote their properties as holiday lets.”