Short-term lets: letter to housing conveners on commencement of short-term lets licensing scheme

Letter from the Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government on the commencement of the short-term lets licensing scheme

To: Local Authority Housing Conveners

Cc: Local Authority Chief Executives;

Councillor , COSLA Spokesperson for Community Wellbeing

By e-mail

21 September 2022


Dear Housing Convener,


Further to my letter to you of 1 April 2022, I am writing ahead of the commencement date of the short-term let licensing scheme to highlight the following matters for your attention and, where relevant, action.

Guest houses

We’ve received a number of queries from local authorities, industry bodies and hosts/operators, as well as a Parliamentary Question, seeking clarification about whether guest houses in planning use class 7 require a short-term let licence. Our response is that the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 (Licensing of Short-term Lets) Order 2022 does not reference planning use classes. Schedule 1 does exempt hotels with planning permission granted for use as a hotel, but it does not list guest houses with planning permission granted for use as a guest house.

Therefore to clarify, unless specified as exempt, under Schedule 1 of this legislation, short-term let accommodation will require a licence to operate and this includes guest houses. We have circulated the information at Annex A to licensing authorities to clarify this matter for the purposes of determining whether or not accommodation is captured by any of the exclusions set out in Schedule 1 of the Licensing Order. We will monitor the application of this as part of the review already announced for 2023.


As we approach 1 October 2022, the date by which local authorities must legally open their licensing schemes by and be ready to receive applications, I would like to recognise the hard work of your teams in recent months to ensure that the policies, processes and systems are in place locally to meet this deadline. I am aware that this has been challenging in the context of the timing of local elections earlier this year, with some draft policies set to be considered and ratified by council committees throughout September.

While there are no penalties under legislation for councils that fail to meet this deadline, there is of course a risk that councils could be challenged by new hosts, or anybody acting on their behalf, if they are unable to submit an application for a licence due to their local authority’s scheme not being open. This is because from 1 October new hosts of short-let accommodation cannot accept bookings or receive guests unless they have obtained a licence, and if they do so they will be in breach of the law.

If you believe your local authority will not have a scheme established by 1 October it is essential that you contact urgently for further advice.

Yours sincerely,


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