Short term lets - licensing scheme part 1: guidance for hosts and operators

Licensing guidance intended for hosts and operators of short-term lets in Scotland. There is also supplementary guidance for licensing authorities to which you can refer for more detailed information.

6. Staying compliant

(a) Complying with licence conditions

6.1. You are responsible for ensuring that your short-term let activity complies with the mandatory conditions and any additional conditions which your licensing authority attaches to your licence.

6.2. It is important to remember that you will need to take further action in the course of your licence, for example making sure that annual and other regular checks are undertaken. You are also responsible for taking all reasonable steps to ensure that your guests comply with your licence conditions.

6.3. Failure to maintain the mandatory conditions would be a breach of your licence conditions and you could be fined or lose your licence(s) if you do so. It is important that you keep evidence of how you have complied with the conditions, for example records of safety checks and service visits.

Maintaining standards

6.4. You should make sure that you are alert to changes in standards through legislation or guidance that will from time to time occur. Signing up to communications from professional or trade bodies can help to alert you.

Taking accommodation out of service

6.5. Sometimes, it will be necessary to take some of your accommodation out of service because it has become unsafe (or otherwise does not comply with your licence conditions). This may be because:

  • a guest has caused damage;
  • a fire has occurred; or
  • you are carrying out work which makes (that part of) the accommodation unsafe whilst the work is carried out.

6.6. Depending on the nature of the issue, it may mean that one of your guest bedrooms or your whole premises cannot be used. Where you have several lets on one premises (e.g. yurts in a field), you may have taken one out of service but the remainder may be usable.

6.7. You can continue to let (parts of) the accommodation which comply with your licence conditions but it would be an offence (failing to comply with licence conditions) to let accommodation which had become (temporarily) unsafe.

Preventing antisocial behaviour

6.8. You may find that some of your guests get involved with antisocial behaviour in or around your premises, affecting neighbours and local community. Antisocial behaviour legislation defines it for these purposes as:

"A person engages in antisocial behaviour if the person:

a) acts in a manner that causes or is likely to cause alarm, distress, nuisance or annoyance; or

b) pursues a course of conduct that causes or is likely to cause alarm, distress, nuisance or annoyance, to a person residing in, visiting or otherwise engaging in lawful activity at, or in the locality of, a relevant house."

6.9. You might want to consider the following measures:

  • setting clear standards so your guests are aware of what might be antisocial in Scotland and in your particular premises (for example this can vary between cultures and some premises may be distinctive);
  • investigating any complaints from neighbours;
  • taking action to advise and warn guests (for example, on reducing noise nuisance);
  • enforcing the terms of your booking, for example the non-refund of a deposit for failing to comply with its terms;
  • terminating a short-term let early;
  • if necessary involving the police (e.g. to tackle drunken aggressive behaviour).

6.10. It is advisable to keep a record of the measures you took as this might help you demonstrate that you remain a fit and proper person to provide short-term lets.

(b) Requesting changes to your licence

6.11. You might want to change the way you provide short-term lets. For example, you might want to:

  • change your letting agency or property management company;
  • make physical alterations to the premises;
  • increase the number of guests at your premises; or
  • increase the number of rooms you want to use for guests.
  • or your personal details might change.

6.12. You must notify your licensing authority of any significant changes relevant to your licence. Some changes will require the licensing authority's approval before they can happen. It is an offence to fail to notify or seek approval of significant changes. If you are unsure whether your proposed changes require notification or approval, please contact your licensing authority for advice and confirmation of whether a fee will be payable.

Selling your premises

6.13. Your licence is specific to you (whether as a person or a company) and your accommodation. This means you cannot simply hand your licence over to someone else, even if that person has purchased the accommodation from you and wants to carry on providing short-term lets.

6.14. Where you are selling your premises to someone who will use that premises for a different purpose, you should advise your licensing authority that you want to surrender your licence.

6.15. If the purchaser wishes to continue providing short-term lets they will need to make a fresh licence application, unless the authority is content to accept a variation application if the purchaser has been added as a new director of the company holding the licence.

6.16. It is important that the purchaser understands that the licensing authority will consider their application on its merits in accordance with their policies at that time. There should be no presumption that the purchaser's application for a licence would be granted and the purchaser should discuss information their lending may be asking for with the authority.

6.17. The legislation does give licensing authorities powers to set local policies for temporary licences (if they decide to offer these) that could enable purchasers to apply for a temporary licence pending consideration of their full licence application. This would be on the basis that the current owner has given permission for the purchaser to apply for a licence, and the purchaser is undertaking a role (host/agent) in connection to the short-term let accommodation. Please note that in applying for a temporary licence, hosts and operators must still comply with all the mandatory conditions.

(c) Visits to your premises

6.18. Your licensing authority may choose to visit your premises and inspect both the premises and any records associated with the conditions attached to the licence.

6.19. Reasons for such a visit may include: as part of considering your application; as part of a routine pattern of inspection; because a complaint has been made by a guest or neighbour; or to follow-up on a previous visit to confirm that an issue has been resolved.

6.20. Your licensing authority must give a reasonable period of notice to you (or your agent) ahead of a routine visit.

6.21. You will not be charged a fee for a routine visit. However, you may be charged if a (follow-up) visit is necessary because you have breached one of your licence conditions.

6.22. Your licensing authority can make unannounced inspections as a way of ensuring licence terms and conditions are adhered to at all times. An unannounced inspection may be the only way of proving (or disproving) a violation of some licensing conditions (e.g. occupancy). Licensing authorities can enter your premises forcibly if necessary, but would only do so in very unusual circumstances.

6.23. Where a visit raises concerns, your licensing authority can require you to take action to put it right. This will usually be done by serving an enforcement notice ("non-compliance" or "improvement" notice). Such notices are likely to specify a date or date(s) by which you should put things right. If you do not take satisfactory action in time, your licensing authority could vary, suspend or revoke your licence.

(d) Suspensions and revocations

6.24. Your licensing authority has the power to suspend or revoke your licence. These are serious steps which are only likely to be taken when you have been given the chance to put things right and failed to do so and/or your guests are at serious risk of harm.

6.25. In considering whether to suspend your licence, your licensing authority may make such reasonable enquiries as they think fit. Before making a decision on whether or not to suspend your licence, your licensing authority will consult with Police Scotland and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.

6.26. Your licence may be suspended whilst the licensing authority considers whether to revoke your licence. If your licence is revoked, you will not be able to make a further application in respect of that premises within one year of the date of revocation.

(e) Renewing your licence

6.27. If you want to continue to provide short-term lets after the end of your licence period, you will need to make an application for renewal of your licence before your licence expires. Your licensing authority will set out details of how you should go about this and provide a renewal application form.

6.28. You can apply to renew your licence at any time before it expires. If your licence expires before your renewal application is determined, you can continue to use your property to provide short-term lets until your renewal application is determined[32].

6.29. If your licence lapses before you apply, then any subsequent application would be treated as a new application rather than a renewal.

6.30. An application for renewal comprises licensing authorities satisfying themselves that:

a) the matters set out in the application form or previous renewal are still correct and notification of any changes (e.g. around contact details etc.); and

b) the applicant remains a fit and proper person;

6.31. the premises remains in compliance with the licence conditions. Licensing authorities will also consider requests to make any changes to the terms of the licence.

6.32. In common with the application stage, you will be required to display a site notice when you apply for a renewal.

6.33. If you request changes to the terms of your licence, then your licensing authority will consider these changes in a similar way as they would for an initial application.

6.34. Your licensing authority is likely to charge a fee for a renewal application (unless they operate a subscription model with regular fee payments). The fee may be different to the fee you were charged when you applied previously.

6.35. Your licensing authority can change the additional licence conditions attached to your licence at renewal, adding or removing any conditions.

6.36. Your licensing authority can grant licence periods of longer than three years on a renewal application. They may do this where a property has been used for short-term lets with no issues or complaints during the initial licence period.

6.37. Licensing authorities will normally grant licence renewal applications where there has been no change in circumstance since the previous application. Remember that a change of circumstances may arise from your activity or premises or from a change in your licensing authority's policies. If your licensing authority does not renew your licence, then you will have a right of appeal.

(f) Surrendering your licence

6.38. You can surrender your licence to the licensing authority at any time when you no longer want to use your property to provide short-term lets.



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