Short-term lets - licensing scheme and planning control area legislation: draft business and regulatory impact assessment (BRIA)
Business and regulatory impact assessment (BRIA) relating to the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 (Licensing of Short-term Lets) Order 2021 (“the Licensing Order”) and the Town And Country Planning (Short-Term Let Control Areas) (Scotland) Regulations 2021 (“the Control Area Regulations”).
Annex D - Airbnb: The Steps to Comply
During the 2020 consultation, Airbnb published a table setting out the steps that hosts would need to take to comply. This table sets out the steps outlined by Airbnb and the Scottish Government’s comments:
1. Find out if your property falls within a control area
The requirement to determine whether you need planning permission is not new. The only new element is that planning permission is always required for secondary letting in a control area. If anything, being in a control area makes the position clearer.
Local authorities wishing to establish a control area will be required to consult on proposals for establishing a control area (or areas) and thereafter will publicise it.
2. If it is, and you’re not renting out a room in your primary home, you must apply for ‘change of use’ planning permission. If it’s not, you may still require planning permission if the planning authority thinks your short term let amounts to “a material change of use”
3. Create an account with ePlanning Scotland
Steps 3 to 7 are not new. The only new requirement would be that a planning application would always require to be made in a control area.
The process for applying for planning permission is costed at Annex C1.
4. Create a planning proposal including:
- a description of the change
- your name and address
- a postal address
- a certificate of ownership
- a plan which clearly identifies the location of the application site
- any other plans or drawings
ePlanning is a straightforward process which allows an individual to complete and submit planning applications from home.
5. Pay the application fee (approx. £400)
The £401 fee can typically be paid online using a debit / credit card or by telephone.
6. Wait while the planning authority publishes details of your application and notifies with anyone within 20 metres of your property. Consider how to respond to any objections. Wait for the planning authority to take a decision on the application (usually around 2 months)
Action is only required if the local authority requests further information in order to verify the application, or if objections are received and the applicant wishes to make representations concerning the objections.
7. If it is approved, proceed; if not, you can appeal
8. Now prepare to apply for a licence
9. Check whether your application falls under a ‘grace period’ or whether you must cease operating until you have a licence
This is straightforward; we have simplified it after the 2020 consultation. There is one set of dates for the whole of Scotland.
All existing hosts, including those who get started on or before 1 October 2022, will have until 1 April 2023 to apply for a licence.
New hosts starting after 1 October 2022 will not be able to take guests until they have a licence.
10. Select whether you need to apply for a licence which can cover both home sharing and home letting (i.e. your home is being used) or whether you need a licence for a secondary letting
This is straightforward. Does the host live in the place where the guests are staying?
11. Check you can comply with mandatory licence conditions …
The list of mandatory conditions primarily relate to a set of standards which will help to protect the safety of guests and neighbours in short-term lets across Scotland. Many hosts will already be following these standards as a matter of compliance with existing law or best practice. These are reviewed at Annex C of this BRIA.
12. Research your local authority’s ‘menu’ of additional licence conditions and check you comply:
- hosts required to meet all guests at the property on check-in
- limits to alternations to the layout of the property without approval – adding beds etc
- limits to occupancy and number of beds
- install adequate facilities for the storage and disposal of refuse and recycling
- replace wood floors with vinyl or carpet
- install door closers to prevent doors being slammed
- install a noise monitoring kit to log noise, and notify the host or hosting intermediary of any noise above a certain specified limit
- communicate “house rules” on arrival
- check in and departure curfews – 11pm and 7am
- supply data on the number of nights your accommodation was let last year, the number of lettings you had last year and the total number of nights available to let last year
Local authorities have the power to introduce additional licence conditions to respond to local challenges and concerns, or to address issues specific to individual properties. Discretionary conditions will only be introduced where there is a reason. Local authorities will not want to unduly curtail the economic benefits of short-term lets.
We expect that, in many cases, local authorities will only require the mandatory conditions.
Where local authorities apply further standard conditions to every licence, in addition to the mandatory conditions, they must publish these on their website.
Most of the examples cited opposite would be applied on a case-by-case basis where there were known concerns or they could reasonably be anticipated.
13. Adjust your property to meet these requirements
Most hosts already complying with existing legislation and good practice will not need to do very much at all to get their property ready.
14. Check whether your application falls under a ‘grace period’ or whether you must cease operating until you have a licence
This is a duplicate of step 9.
15. Supply information:
- property owner
- number of bedrooms (and floorplan) HMO licence number (if applicable) host contact details
- relevant criminal convictions – disqualification from being a private landlord, having had short-term lets or HMO licence revoked
- have you had an application for a short-term lets licence turned down by any local authority?
- have you provided false or misleading information in an application for a short-term lets licence, HMO licence or application to be a private landlord?
- other short-term let licences you own
- proposed maximum occupancy
- what type of short-term let licence you are applying for
- information about any intermediary (Airbnb, Booking.com etc)
- out of hours contact details
- access arrangements for any local authority visit
- have you met mandatory licence conditions?
- have you met additional conditions?
- and which neighbours have you notified
Most of this information is very straightforward and many hosts will already have this information to hand.
16. Pay your non-refundable application fee (TBD, but will depend on property size, number of rooms and occupants)
Application fees will be set by local authorities. This is discussed in detail in the main body of the BRIA. The process of determining and paying the appropriate fee will not be complicated.
17. Notify all neighbours within a 20-metre distance of the property, including all residents on a tenement stair and neighbouring tenement stairs
Following the 2020 consultation, we have amended the requirement so that the licensing authority does this on behalf of the applicant.
18. Await potential objection based on safety, noise, previous complaints, the availability of residential housing, the impact of your letting on the character of the neighbourhood, and the suitability of the building
The opportunity for neighbours to comment has been welcomed by local communities. There is plenty of time before the licensing scheme opens for hosts to build relationships with residents and neighbours as we heard in consultation that the best of them already do.
Remember: existing hosts can continue operating whilst their application is processed.
19. Await potential visit from local authorities to assess
Not all properties will be visited. However, visits are an important part of the process to ensure safety and to drive up standards.
Remember: existing hosts can continue operating whilst their application is processed.
20. Appear before Council licensing committee to justify your application or instruct lawyer to appear on your behalf
Perhaps 10% of applications in respect of secondary letting might go before a licencing committee. We would expect a much smaller proportion of home sharing and home letting to go to committee.
21. Set up direct debit to pay monthly or yearly ‘monitoring’ subscription fee to the council (TBD)
Some hosts have welcomed the opportunity to pay monthly if that is available. Most local authorities are likely to go with the application and renewal model.
22. Get added to the register of hosts and licence accommodation
No action for the applicant. Local authorities will do this.
23. Always be prepared for an inspection of your property – routine (with warning) or unannounced (where your premises will be entered forcibly if necessary)
Not all properties will be inspected. The power to carry out inspections is an important part of the process to ensure safety and to drive up standards. Notice would normally be given. Generally, the approach to inspections post-application are likely to focus on higher risk accommodation or places attracting complaints.
24. If you don’t comply, or the inspection is in response to a complaint, you will be charged for the cost of inspection (TBD)
Local authorities will have a reason for wanting to carry out an inspection which would be stated in any notice. (A valid reason would be as part of a schedule of visiting every property in the area or because a long time had elapsed since the last visit.)
The host would only be charged if the inspection found the complaint was valid or licence conditions had not been complied with.
25. Renew your licence after three years
This is in keeping with existing licensing functions local authorities exercise. The 1982 Act allows for licences to be issued for up to 3 years and the Licensing Order allows longer licences to be issued.
For competent hosts (who have been complying with conditions of their licence) we expect the renewal process will be relatively straightforward.
There is a problem
Thanks for your feedback