Short term lets: planning guidance for hosts and operators

This draft planning guidance is intended for hosts and operators of short-term lets. A separate planning circular has been prepared for planning authorities.

This guidance is now out of date. A new version will be available in March 2022.

1. Introduction

(a) About this guidance

1.1. This guidance is intended for hosts and operators of short-term lets. A separate planning circular[1] has been prepared for planning authorities.

1.2. Separate guidance has been produced for the short-term lets licensing scheme. Hosts and operators must comply with both planning and licensing law.

1.3. This guidance is non-statutory and should not be interpreted as offering definitive legal advice. If in doubt, you should seek your own legal advice.

(b) Policy objectives

1.4. The Scottish Government's purpose in the regulation of short-term lets is to ensure that local authorities have appropriate regulatory powers to balance the needs and concerns of their communities with wider economic and tourism interests. The regulation of short term lets comprises a licensing scheme, powers for local authorities to designate planning control areas (hereafter referred to as control areas) and possible changes to taxation.

1.5. The licensing scheme[3] aims to ensure short-term lets are safe and address issues faced by neighbours; and to facilitate local authorities in knowing and understanding what is happening in their area as well as to assist with handling complaints effectively.

1.6. The licensing scheme is complemented by powers[3] for local authorities to designate control areas. The purpose of control areas is to help manage high concentrations of secondary letting (where it affects the availability of residential housing or the character of a neighbourhood); to restrict or prevent short-term lets in places or types of building where it is not appropriate; and to help local authorities ensure that homes are used to best effect in their areas.

(c) Glossary

1.7. Words with a particular meaning are highlighted in bold and explained where they first appear and the explanation is repeated in the glossary below.

1.8. In this guidance, the following terms are used:

"the 1997 Act" - means the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997;

"the Control Area Regulations" - mean the Town and Country Planning (Short-term Let Control Areas) (Scotland) Regulations 2021 (SSI 2021/154);

"GPDO" - means the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Scotland) Order 1992;

"the Use Classes Order" - means the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) (Scotland) Order 1997 (SI 1997/3061);

"control area" - means a short-term let control area designated under section 26B of the 1997 Act, as amended by the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019;

"dwellinghouse" - means, for these purposes, an independent dwelling (with its own front door, kitchen and bathroom) being accommodation which ordinarily affords the facilities required for day-to-day private domestic existence such as a house, flat, cottage, see also Annex A;

"guest" - means a person occupying a property for the purposes of a short-term let;

"host" (or "operator") - means a person or company providing accommodation for short-term lets;

"licensing scheme"- means the scheme established by the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 (Licensing of Short-term Lets) Order 2021 (SSI 2021/[ ]);

"neighbour" - means, for our purposes, someone whose permanent residence is in close enough proximity to a short-term let to have a legitimate interest in its business, e.g. potentially affected by safety, noise, litter, nuisance;

"property" - means the accommodation (room, rooms or premises) let to the guest(s) as a short-term let;

"secondary let" - means the letting of a property where you do not normally live, for example a second home (and has the same meaning as in the licensing scheme);

"short-term let" - is as defined in the 1997 Act and regulation 2 of the Control Area Regulations, see also Annex B (and has the same meaning as in the licensing scheme);



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