Technical changes to short-term lets licensing scheme passed by Parliament

Technical changes to short-term lets licensing scheme passed by Parliament

MSPs have backed a range of technical updates to the short-term lets licensing scheme in response to engagement with accommodation operators.

The changes mean that hosts will be apply to apply for a maximum of three temporary exemptions to the licensing scheme in a calendar year (with a combined total of no more than six weeks). There are also technical clarifications to exclude foster care and guest rooms in certain residential accommodation from licensing requirements.

Licensing was introduced in 2022 to provide assurance to guests on safety and quality, such as gas and electrical safety compliance and the suitability of hosts.

The regulations passed by the Scottish Parliament enable:

  • Licences to be transferred to a new host, such as when accommodation is sold
  • Prospective hosts building a new short-term let to apply for a provisional licence before construction is complete
  • Hosts to apply for a maximum of three licence exemptions totalling six weeks in a calendar year

Minister for housing Paul McLennan said: “Short-term let accommodation is vital to Scotland’s tourism sector and wider economy. The short-term lets licensing scheme aims to protect the reputation of responsible operators and ensure the sector is regulated in line with other accommodation such as hotels and caravan parks, giving guests assurance of consistent safety standards.

“The technical updates to the scheme passed by Parliament were introduced in response to engagement with short-term let operators and the wider tourism industry. This will ensure the scheme continues to deliver quality and safety assurance for guests, whilst protecting the needs of local communities.”

Andy Fenner, CEO of the UK Short Term Accommodation Association, said: “Scotland’s holiday let industry brings in revenue for all kinds of businesses in communities not served by traditional hospitality, and makes the country an attractive destination for the millions of overseas visitors that come every year.

“Improvements, such as the ability to transfer licences and greater flexibility around temporary exemptions should assist in providing more certainty to those who rely on income from tourism. We have been working with the Scottish Government on these changes over the past year and appreciate its collaborative and pragmatic approach to addressing feedback. We are encouraged by the government’s commitment to addressing other issues related to the scheme and look forward to working together on identifying further improvements which will boost the competitiveness of our sector in Scotland.”

The Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers has warned that the Amendment Order provided “little more than minor tinkering around the edges” rather than the changes necessary for a key component of Scottish tourism, with jobs and livelihoods remaining at risk.

Fiona Campbell, CEO of the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers, said: “Key Scottish tourism stakeholders are united in saying these amendments are insufficient to address business concerns. Nobody would expect the Scottish Government to adopt every industry recommendation but what is on the table is a paltry offering. It is akin to re-arranging the furniture on the deck of RMS Titanic whilst it sinks.

“Sadly, commitments to cut red tape have bypassed a sector facing irreversible damage. We can’t keep kicking the can down the road and hoping for the best when small and micro businesses urgently need help now.

“All licensing is doing is pushing up the costs of holidaying in Scotland, squeezing the supply of accommodation for our world-leading Festivals while generating a flourishing black market, damaging local businesses for no material benefit, and further legal challenges cannot be ruled out.

“Our message to government is clear: there has to be real, tangible change otherwise more small indigenous Scottish businesses will continue to close, it is as simple as that.”

Share icon
Share this article: