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.

7. Licensing data

(a) Introduction

7.1. Licensing authorities are required to maintain a public register of short-term let licences, and share the content of the register with Scottish Government on an ongoing regular basis in a format that enables analysis of the information. By 1 July 2024, Scotland will have accurate up-to-date data on the number of short-term lets operating (based on licence applications), and their exact location (as well as other relevant data).

7.2. As data controllers, licensing authorities are responsible for ensuring compliance with UK General Data Protection Regulations, this includes storage, handling and disposal of all data related to licence applications they receive. The Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA)[31] sets out further detail for licensing authorities, as data controllers, on:

  • data controllers and safeguards;
  • data security;
  • anonymity and pseudonymity;
  • data handling procedures;
  • storage and disposal of data; and
  • identification methods.

7.3. Licensing authorities must not keep personal data for longer than needed. Licensing authorities are responsible for storing data and disposing of it when it is no longer needed. Personal information must only be held for as long as it is necessary for the effective administration of the licensing scheme.

7.4. Licensing authorities may share personal data, for specific purposes, as follows:

  • Within and between local authorities, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and Police Scotland as part of the notification process in order to carry out background checks.
  • With other licensing authorities, to share the reasons for suspending, varying or revoking a licence with each other[32]. This might be relevant for example if a host/operator is deemed no longer fit and proper to hold a licence in one area and is also licensed by more than one licensing authority.
  • Publication in the public register of licences, see paragraphs 7.7 and following below.
  • Quarterly submissions to Scottish Government, so that data on licences from each local authority can be amalgamated at a national level, and to review against policy objectives. No personal data will be published in Scottish Government reports on short-term letting activity.
  • With letting agencies and platforms, or any person involved in advertising or listing of a property of the fact that:
  • o unlawful unlicensed premises are being advertised or listed; or
  • o a licence has been suspended or revoked (or varied where the variation affects the maximum occupancy of the property). This will allow letting agencies and platforms to remove adverts or listings or require amendment if they are inaccurate.

7.5. Further details on data processing can be found in the DPIA in the 2020 consultation report. Information about the processing of personal data is set out section C of the DPIA.

(b) Managing the data

7.6. The lawful basis and objectives for collecting, processing and sharing the data (set out in the DPIA) require licensing authorities to:

a) collect sufficient data for monitoring and enforcement purposes, including setting out requirements for the sharing of relevant information between licensing authorities for hosts and operators with premises in more than one area (operational data).

b) share data, including the number, type and location of short-term lets, with Scottish Government in a consistent format on an ongoing regular basis (analytical data). The Scottish Government will combine data into a national database for subsequent analysis but will not include personal data in its report. Operational and analytical data is expected to be shared using the same format and data field specifications as in the public register, with any additional fields appended.

c) publish and maintain a register of short-term let licences and their status (granted, refused, being determined, revoked, lapsed etc.), which can be accessed and searched by members of the public (public register). Licensing authorities must publish the register on a quarterly basis.

(c) The public register

7.7. The specification for the register is set out at Annex B with the data fields. Licensing authorities must:

a) make the register available to the public electronically, in a searchable format - this could be done through publishing an Excel spreadsheet with suitable user instructions and protections; and

b) publish or update their register on at least a quarterly basis. By 1 October 2023, the Scottish Government expects licensing authorities to provide more frequent or live updates where it is possible to do so.

7.8. The requirement to identify whether the short-term let is within either of the two national parks in Scotland is to assist them in identifying short-term let activity within their boundaries (which are not necessarily contiguous with licensing authority boundaries).

7.9. The structure and specification of licence numbers are explained in chapter 4 and Annex A.

7.10. Licensing authorities can remove data from the register of data in respect of:

  • licences that have been revoked for more than 12 months; or
  • licences that have been surrendered.

7.11. Note that, reasons for revoking a licence may be appropriate to retain for longer than 12 months if it is likely to be relevant in determining any new application for a licence by the host.

(d) Data sharing with Scottish Government

7.12. The data to be shared regularly will include the contents of the public register, in a format the enables analysis of the information. In addition to the data fields that must be included in the public register, SG also wishes to collect the following data and expects LAs to ensure these fields are included in their data collections and provided to SG as part of quarterly returns. This will ensure consistent data across Scotland and facilitate robust analysis:

  • Date application determined;
  • Licence expiry date;
  • UPRN;
  • Application outcome (selecting one of the following reasons):
    • Applicant(s) not fit and proper;
    • Premises not suitable;
    • Planning permission required and not held;
    • Other (free text).

7.13. This information will allow for monitoring of application processing times, average length of time a licence is granted for, and common reasons for applications being refused in order to monitor and evaluate the policy.

7.14. In order to minimise the volume of data transferred from licensing authorities to Scottish Government we do not expect it will be necessary to transfer data for every entry on the public register in each quarterly data extract. Data extracts may include the following:

  • New applications / additions to the public register;
  • Entries that have been removed from the public register;
  • Licence records where one of the data fields has changed (e.g. status has changed from 'being determined' to 'approved').

7.15. The Scottish Government intends to work with licensing authorities over the coming months to finalise the data specification for the data to be shared with Scottish Government on a regular basis. This is likely to involve use of ProcXed to design and manage data collection from licensing authorities.

7.16. Licensing authorities may choose to, but need not, include some or all of the additional fields set out in para 7.12 within their public registers.



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