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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.”
Licensing of short-term lets will use the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982. The scheme will incorporate a compulsory element, underpinning safety standards for short-term lets, and additional, optional, powers for local authorities to impose further conditions or requirements where that is appropriate for their areas.
Short-term lets control areas will be introduced using powers at section 17 of the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019. Home sharing - renting a room in your own home or allowing others to stay in your own home whilst on holiday - will not be affected by control areas.
Regulations giving local authorities these new powers to licence short-term lets and introduce control areas will be in place by spring 2021. This regulation of short-term lets reflects the 2018 Programme for Government commitment to ensure local authorities have appropriate regulatory powers to balance the needs and concerns of their communities with wider economic and tourism interests.
A consultation on a regulatory framework for short-term lets in Scotland received over 1,000 responses, the majority of which were supportive of some form of regulation. The responses were published in October 2019, together with an independent analysis of the responses and independent research on the impact of short-term lets on communities and housing across Scotland.