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

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

5. Making an application for a licence


5.1. As explained in chapter 2, you need a licence for each premises you intend to use for short-term lets. You will need to make a separate application for each premises and submit each application to the relevant licencing authority. Remember, it is the area in which your premises is located which determines the relevant licensing authority for each application.

5.2. For each premises, you need to decide whether you are applying for:

a) a licence for home sharing and home letting; or

b) a licence for secondary letting.

5.3. This is because your licensing authority may treat these applications differently, for example in terms of fees payable or where your premises is in a control area.

5.4. You should also decide whether you are going to apply for an exemption or a temporary licence.

Temporary exemptions

5.5. Your licensing authority can grant temporary exemptions to the requirement to have a licence[37]. They can do this for:

  • a specified occasion; or
  • a specified single continuous period not exceeding 6 weeks in any period of 12 months.

5.6. They might do this to accommodate a large influx of visitors over a short period to support sports championship competitions and arts festivals, for example. To get a temporary exemption, you need to apply for one.

5.7. There are some important differences between applying for, and operating with, a temporary exemption and having a licence. Your licensing authority might:

  • ask for the application to be made on a different (shorter) form;
  • charge a different (lower) fee;
  • ask for less information than on a licence application; and
  • not apply some of the mandatory conditions.

5.8. Your licensing authority can check and enforce any conditions that are attached to your exemption. Your licensing authority would have the right to visit your premises.

5.9. Your licensing authority may choose not to issue any temporary exemptions under any circumstances or may have specific criteria that they apply. If you think a temporary exemption might be the right approach for your circumstances, you should check your licensing authority's short-term lets temporary exemptions policy statement, which you should be able to find on their website.

5.10. Your licensing authority can grant or refuse an application for a temporary exemption. If they grant your application, you will be given a temporary exemption number (like a licence number).

5.11. You should be aware that a temporary exemption from the requirement to have a licence does not affect the way planning rules apply to you. If any temporary changes to planning rules have been made (for example to handle a major international event), your planning authority will publicise these.

Temporary licences

5.12. Licensing authorities can issue temporary licences[38] but they need not do so. If you are granted a temporary licence, it can also last for up to six weeks or longer if you have also made an application for a licence. If you have applied for a licence, your temporary licence will last until your licence application is finally determined.

5.13. Temporary licences can provide a way for licensing authorities to allow new hosts and operators to start taking guests whilst their licensing application is being considered. Your licensing authority website will explain whether and how your licensing authority issues temporary licences, including how long it takes to issue them.

5.14. If you are granted a temporary licence, you will be given a temporary licence number. You must comply with all the mandatory conditions.

Duration of your licence

5.15. All licences only last for a certain amount of time before they expire. Your licensing authority will determine for how long your licence is valid before it expires and needs to renewed.

5.16. Your licensing authority cannot give you a licence that lasts more than 3 years on your first application. When you apply to renew your licence, your licensing authority could grant it for a longer period. Your licensing authority may grant licences of different durations to different hosts and operators. In doing so, they might take account of issues and complaints that have arisen.

5.17. Different licensing authorities will have different policies and you should check your licensing authorities website for more information.


Judith's licensing authority has a blanket policy that, where they grant a licence for the first time, the licence lasts for two years. After that, where they grant a renewal, the licence lasts for either one year or three years, depending on whether or not there have been any complaints upheld about the premises.

Judith has provided short-term lets at her property without any issues during her first licence period of two years. When she applies for a renewal, her second licence is granted for three years.


5.18. Your licensing authority will charge a fee for a licence. You will need to pay the fee with your application. Different licensing authorities may charge different fees. The exact fee that you need to pay may depend on things like how many guests you want to accommodate. If you have premises in more than one licensing authority area, the fees you pay may be different, even for the same circumstances. You should check your licensing authority's website for more information on the fees that they charge and the methods of payment that they accept.

5.19. If your application is refused, your fee will not be refunded. However, you may receive a partial refund. Please check with your licensing authority before making an application.

5.20. If your licensing authority chooses to refuse to consider your application because you need to get planning permission first, they will tell you about this within seven days of making that decision. You will be able to resubmit your licensing application without paying any further fee[39] provided you do this within 28 days of planning permission being granted.

Owners' consent

5.21. You will need the consent of the owner (or each owner) for your licensing application[40]. Where a property is owned by multiple owners either of the following will be required:

a) a declaration from each other owner, or each owner, that he or she consents to the application, or

b) a declaration from a person who is authorised to act on behalf of all the owners.

Application checklist

5.22. We have set out a checklist at Annex A of all the points we have covered in chapters 2 to 5 to help you make sure you are ready to make an application. This checklist only covers points that apply across Scotland. Your licensing authority might have a longer checklist on their website that covers these points and additional points (e.g. around fees and additional conditions) that apply in their area.

5.23. Your licensing authority website will have a copy of the application form and instructions about how to complete and submit it to them.

5.24. Your application will be considered incomplete and returned to you if you do not include all the information requested.

Handling guest bookings

5.25. You are permitted to advertise your property prior to being granted a licence. From 1 October 2022, new hosts must not take bookings without a licence.

5.26. You should make clear in your terms and conditions that the booking is conditional on your compliance with the licensing scheme. If your application for a licence is refused, or your licence is suspended or revoked it would be an offence for you to let your property to guests.

5.27. As soon as you are advised that your licence application is refused or your licence is suspended or revoked, you should contact all those with affected bookings. You should normally offer a full refund in these circumstances.

5.28. If you are notified that your licence application is refused or your licence is suspended or revoked, you have 28 days to appeal that decision[41]. During this time, you can continue to provide short-term lets. This gives you time to ensure any guests have left your property before the notice takes effect. Notwithstanding this, guests should be asked to leave immediately if they are at serious risk of harm in your premises.



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