H: Scottish Firms Impact Test
111. The firms most affected by this legislation are hosts providing accommodation, where they are set up as businesses. These are most likely to be set up as businesses where they are self-caterers letting out a number of properties. (Most hosts providing home sharing and letting accommodation will not be registered as businesses.) We have assumed that there are 32,000 short-term lets in Scotland based on research in 2019 which also showed that around 70% of these are for secondary letting; of these, some of these will part of businesses and some will not. The majority of the properties used for secondary letting will belong to hosts with more than one property. It is hard to be definitive about the number of businesses affected because of a lack of robust data about the sector (which the licensing scheme will resolve) and because the classification of a property as non-domestic does not necessarily mean it is part of a business.
112. However, there is a whole ecosystem around the provision of short-term let accommodation ranging from platforms such as Airbnb, booking.com and Expedia through to hosting intermediaries and holiday letting agencies. In section C3 above, and in the consultation report, we have set out how we have engaged with all the different types of actor in the system.
113. The STAA, Airbnb and ASSC have made strong representation on behalf of hosts. Airbnb has stated that they considered the proposed regulatory system to be complex, costly and unfair for hosts. During the 2020 consultation, Airbnb published a table setting out the steps that hosts would need to take to comply. They said:
The Scottish Government is consulting on a new licensing and planning framework for short-term lets, coming into force in April 2021. We think it’s complex, costly and unfair for hosts. Find out more about what the Scottish Government has set out below, and speak to your local politician with your thoughts on how this will affect you.
114. These steps are set out at Annex D, together with the Scottish Government’s comments.
115. The ASSC has also engaged its membership and with the Scottish Government and the principal points made of relevance to this BRIA at events and follow-up questions are set out at Annex E.