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.

7. Staying compliant

Complying with licence conditions

7.1. 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.

7.2. Some licence conditions will require action before you make your application, for example around undertaking checks and works to make sure your premises are safe. 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.

7.3. You are responsible for taking all reasonable steps to ensure that your guests comply with your licence conditions. You cannot monitor their behaviour 24-7, but there are plenty of measures you can take to increase the likelihood that they comply. An important start is to make sure that relevant licence conditions are communicated to them at the time of booking and again on arrival.

7.4. Some conditions require vigilance about how your property is used on a day-to-day basis, for example the maximum occupancy condition. Chapter 4 sets out some measures you can take to ensure that guests comply with the maximum occupancy condition.

7.5. Your licensing authority may want to undertake some form of checks, perhaps a visit or to see documentation, during your licence period. Your licensing authority will advise you on how they will check on compliance. See paragraphs 7.23 and following about licensing authority visits to your premises.

7.6. It is your responsibility to make sure you understand your licence conditions so that you can comply with them. If you do not understand anything, you should seek to clarify it as soon as possible.

Maintaining standards

7.7. 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.

7.8. It is also worth paying attention to feedback or concerns raised by guests or neighbours and any advice from licensing authorities or other professionals. You should make sure that cleaners, or other people who are on the site at changeover between guests, look out for potential problems. For example, has a guest damaged some electrical equipment, removed notice or incapacitated a smoke alarm.

Taking property out of service

7.9. Sometimes, it will be necessary to take some of your property 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 property unsafe whilst the work is carried out.

7.10. Depending on the nature of the issue, it may mean that one of your guest bedrooms cannot be used or it may mean that the whole premises cannot be used. Where you have several properties on one premises (e.g. yurts in a field), you may have taken one out of service but the remainder may be usable. Again you may have, say, a six bedroom cottage where one bedroom has been taken out of commission but the cottage is usable with the remaining five bedrooms.

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

Preventing antisocial behaviour

7.12. 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[48] 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."

7.13. You might want to consider the following measures[49]:

  • 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 idiosyncratic);
  • investigating any complaints from neighbours;
  • taking action to advise and warn guests (for example, on reducing noise nuisance);
  • enforcing the terms of your booking and including sanctions (e.g. around non-refund of a deposit) for failing to comply with it;
  • terminating a short-term let early; and, in the worst case,
  • involving the police (e.g. to tackle drunken aggressive behaviour).

7.14. You might want 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.

Requesting changes to your licence

7.15. 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.

7.16. Your personal details might change.

7.17. You must notify your licensing authority of any significant changes relevant to your licence. Some changes, such as those at paragraph 7.15, 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. A fee may be payable in some circumstances.

Selling your premises

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

7.19. 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 (see below).

7.20. In some circumstances, the purchaser may wish to continue providing short-term lets. This could arise where:

    • you are selling your own home and had a licence to use it for home letting or home sharing; or
    • you are selling premises which are not your own home and had a license to use that premises for secondary letting.

7.21. In all cases, the purchaser will need to make a fresh licence application. 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.

7.22. Where a licensing authority wanted to support the purchaser in continuing to provide short-term lets without significant delay, the licensing authority could grant the purchaser a temporary licence pending consideration of their licence application.

Visits to your premises

7.23. Your licensing authority can choose to visit your premises and inspect both the premises and any records associated with the conditions attached to the licence. They are not obliged to visit your premises.

7.24. They may visit: 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.

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

7.26. 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.

7.27. 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.

7.28. 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.

Suspensions and revocations

7.29. 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.

7.30. 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 the police and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.

7.31. Your licence may be suspended whilst the licensing authority considers whether or not 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.

Renewing your licence

7.32. 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. Your licensing authority will set out details of how you should go about this and provide a renewal application form.

7.33. The renewal process should be straightforward, especially for hosts and operators who have complied with their licence conditions and have not caused issues for neighbours.

7.34. 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[50].

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

7.36. An application for renewal comprises:

a) confirmation that 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.);

b) confirmation that the applicant remains a fit and proper person;

c) confirmation that the premises remains in compliance with the licence conditions; and

d) any request to make any changes to the terms of the licence.

7.37. Licensing authorities are not obliged to notify neighbours where a routine renewal application is made (i.e. without requests for significant changes).

7.38. 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.

7.39. 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.

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

7.41. 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.

7.42. Licensing authorities will normally approve 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.

Surrendering your licence

7.43. 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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