Councils 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 handling 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.
Welcoming the announcement, MSP for Edinburgh Pentlands, Gordon Macdonald, said:
The proposals announced by the Scottish Government will give Edinburgh council new powers to control the number of short-term lets in the our local communities and make sure they make a fair contribution to the services they use.
It’s important that we strike a balance between the undeniable economic benefits of tourism to Scotland and the impact on local communities.
Edinburgh, alone, accounts for 31% of short term lets across Scotland. These short-term lets such as AirBNB are restricting the number of properties available for those looking for a home to live in.
I am very pleased that the SNP has outlined a robust and proportionate approach to tackling this serious issue – I’d call on politicians across Edinburgh to get behind these proposals and help secure real change for the area.