Number of flats in an aparthotel: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Information requested

1. How the number of flats (ie 5) to define an aparthotel was arrived at;

2. An explanation of how all 5-apartment businesses present no problem at all, but all 4-apartment businesses create such a large problem that their trading activities must be more tightly regulated - and in the case of Edinburgh, must cease trading altogether

3. Whether or not it is intentional to entirely cease the operations of smaller (ie <5 flats, mostly locally owned) businesses while having zero impact on larger businesses. If this is not the intention but only collateral damage, what the Scottish government plans to do to mitigate this impact.


1. The exclusion for aparthotels was developed following feedback received during our 2020 consultation: Short Term Lets: Consultation on a licensing scheme and planning control areas in Scotland - Scottish Government - Citizen Space. Responses from operators in the industry proposed that an exemption should be included for professionally managed whole-block residential buildings, entirely owned, leased, managed or operated by a single company, and managed and operated by a single company, for short-term, managed accommodation comprising five or more serviced apartments, due to the fact that an aparthotel bears more of a resemblance to a hotel in both planning terms and health and safety regulation.

Serviced apartment is defined at paragraph 3 of the Licensing Order and is a flat or residential unit with some form of on-going service provision to the guests and management of them. Whilst a single serviced apartment might be “embedded” in flats or tenements (and is therefore within the scope of the licensing scheme), an aparthotel bears more of a resemblance to a hotel in both planning terms and health and safety regulation and, for this reason, is excluded.

We published draft licensing legislation for consultation in 2021: Short Term Lets: Consultation on draft Licensing Order and Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment (BRIA) - Scottish Government - Citizen Space. The draft legislation included provision to exclude aparthotels, based on the definition in the, now, approved licensing legislation. Interested parties were given the opportunity to comment on this proposed definition during a 7 week consultation in summer 2021 ahead of the licensing legislation being finalised. We received over 1,000 responses to the consultation. None of those responses raised concern about the proposed definition of aparthotel being set at a minimum of 5 serviced apartments within a single block.

2&3. The information you have requested is contained within the Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment (BRIA) which was published to accompany the licensing legislation when it was introduced to the Scottish Parliament. Section G3 outlines the potential impact of this legislation on the tourist economy. The BRIA can be found here: Short-term lets: business and regulatory impact assessment - ( Under section 25(1) of FOISA, we do not have to give you information which is already reasonably accessible to you. If, however, you do not have internet access to obtain this information from the website(s) listed, then please contact me again and I will send you a paper copy.

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Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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