Short-term lets - impact on communities: research

Research to assess the impact, positive and negative, of short-term lets (STLs) in Scotland, with a focus on communities, particularly on neighbourhoods and housing.

1. Introduction and research aims


The Scottish Government appointed The Indigo House Group (Indigo House) to undertake independent research on short-term lets (STLs) in Scotland. This work complements other work led by the Scottish Government's Short-Term Lets Delivery Group (STLDG). This Group was established in 2018 in its response[8] to the Scottish Expert Advisory Panel on the Collaborative Economy[9]. The STLDG membership includes representatives from across the Scottish Government including housing, planning and tourism, and reflects the cross-sectoral interest in STLs. The first stage of the work undertaken by STLDG was to publish a consultation on proposals for a regulatory framework for STLs which closed in July 2019. The consultation was informed by a rapid literature and evidence review, undertaken by the Scottish Government, which identified some gaps in knowledge and led to the commissioning of this independent research. Findings from this research, together with the outcome of the Scottish Government consultation on STLs, will support an evidence-informed approach for the regulation of STLs in Scotland.

Research aims and questions

The aims of this research, set by the Scottish Government are to:

  • Assess the impact (positive and/or negative) of STLs in Scotland, with a focus on the communities' aspect, in particular, neighbourhoods and housing.
  • Explore how people across different locations (urban and rural) in Scotland are affected by STLs.
  • Explore the experiences of the following groups: local residents, STLs hosts, as well as other community actors, such as local businesses.

In commissioning the research, the Scottish Government expected the research to answer the following questions:

  • How do STLs and their growth affect communities across Scotland?
  • Do people perceive an increase in STLs in their local area and in what ways?
  • Who is mostly affected by STLs and in what ways?
  • How does the STLs experience differ for each of the following groups: local residents, people who host STLs, as well as other community actors, such as local businesses?
  • What, if any, are the differences between the impact of STLs in urban and rural Scotland?

Structure of the report

The methodology used for this research project, as well as the limitations of the research, is outlined in Chapter 2. Chapter 3 discusses the findings of the secondary data analysis, including the incidence and growth of STLs and their location. Findings from the primary research (both surveys and in-depth interviews) are detailed in Chapters 4 and 5, with the former focusing on the use and amount of STLs and the latter on the impacts of STLs, as well as potential regulations. The research is then summarised in Chapter 6.

Appendix 1 discussed in more detail the data used in the secondary data analysis, while in Appendix 2 the profile of residents and hosts who participated in the quantitative surveys is described. The research material used by Indigo House, including survey questionnaires and discussion guides are published separately.



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