Information

Short term lets - licensing scheme part 2: supplementary guidance for licensing authorities, letting agencies and platforms

Licensing guidance part 2 is intended for Scottish licensing authorities, letting agencies and platforms facilitating short-term lets in Scotland.


1. Introduction

1.1. The Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 (Licensing of Short-term Lets) Order 2022[1] was approved by the Scottish Parliament on 19 January 2022 and came into force on 1 March 2022.

1.2. The Scottish Government has developed this guidance in consultation with the Short-Term Lets Stakeholder Working Group comprising a wide range of industry, local authority and community stakeholders. This non-statutory guidance is split into two parts: Part 1[2] is for hosts and operators and Part 2 for Scottish licensing authorities, letting agencies and platforms facilitating short-term lets in Scotland. It should not be interpreted as offering definitive legal advice and, if in doubt, you should seek your own legal advice.

1.3. Separate guidance has been produced in respect of planning considerations for hosts and operators and Planning Circular 1/2021 to assist planning authorities in establishing short-term let control areas. Hosts and operators must comply with both planning and licensing law.

(a) Purpose of guidance

1.4. This Guidance Part 2 is designed to help licensing authorities implement a licensing scheme in their area which is:

  • in line with the Scottish Government's overall policy aims for the licensing of short-term lets (see Guidance Part 1);
  • efficient, effective and proportionate; and
  • customised to the licensing authority's local policies and the needs and circumstances of the licensing authority's local area.

1.5. It is desirable for licensing authorities to work collaboratively with other licensing authorities to facilitate consistency in operational approach, where it is possible to do so; the aim being to tailor schemes to local needs, but to minimise unwarranted variation in the overall processes.

(b) Language used in Guidance Part 2

1.6. The glossary for Guidance Part 1 has effect for this Guidance Part 2.

1.7. We additionally use the following terms from the 1982 Act and Licensing Order, where the circumstances require it:

"applicant" means the person making the application for the licence, normally the host or operator; and
"licence holder" means any one of the persons named on the licence application including, but not limited to, the host or operator.

(c) Updates

1.8. Ownership of this guidance rests with the Scottish Government and the latest version will always be available at: Short-term lets: regulation information - gov.scot (www.gov.scot). We will notify licensing authorities of any updates.

(d) Information for applicants (and the application form)

1.9. The Scottish Government expects licensing authorities to take active steps to publicise their licensing schemes to raise awareness amongst current and potential short-term let hosts and operators.

1.10. One of these steps is for licensing authorities to have a dedicated section on their website for their short-term let licensing scheme where hosts and operators can find all the information that they need to apply and comply. This should include:

  • links to Scottish Government guidance;
  • fees for applications and renewals (and any other fees);
  • additional information and guidance about relevant policies, additional conditions or measures specific to the licensing authority area;
  • the application form; and
  • how to make an appeal

1.11. Licensing authorities should also consider writing to existing hosts and operators as part of an awareness raising campaign. This could include:

  • properties registered on the non-domestic rates roll as self-catering, B&Bs or guest houses;
  • properties registered as second homes and paying council tax, as they may be used occasionally as short-term lets; and
  • properties that have been granted planning permission to operate as a short-term let.

1.12. The Scottish Government would like hosts and operators to be able to conduct as many transactions as possible with licensing authorities in an online or electronic format. It is therefore desirable for licensing authorities to work towards a digital first approach (in line with Scottish Government's Digital Strategy). Online information should be provided in line with Scottish Government's digital accessibility requirements and be compatible with assistive technology.

1.13. Licensing authorities are expected to still have paper copies of relevant information, and the application form, available upon request for people who cannot access them online, and provide support to access online services at their offices.

Application checklist

1.14. Licensing Guidance Part 1 (Annex B) has an application checklist for hosts and operators. Licensing authorities may wish to augment this application checklist to cater for any additional conditions or other specific requirements and make this available on their website.

(e) Information for residents and neighbours

1.15. In addition to the information on their website set out at 1.10, it would also be helpful for licensing authorities to include information on:

  • how to make a complaint (licensing and planning authorities might wish to consider how to join up and triage complaints, see chapter 6);
  • how to report suspected unlicensed short-term lets and breaches of licence conditions; and
  • how to raise an objection after becoming aware of an application (licensing and planning authorities might consider how to join up and triage licensing and planning processes and objections, see chapter 6).

Contact

Email: shorttermlets@gov.scot

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