Publication - Advice and guidance

Short-term lets: regulation information

Published: 22 Mar 2020
Last updated: 25 Jun 2021 - see all updates

Information about the regulation of short-term lets in Scotland.

22 Mar 2020
Short-term lets: regulation information

Consultation on licensing legislation

The Scottish Government consulted on a revised Licensing Order and draft Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment from 25 June 2021 to 13 August 2021.  Draft guidance for hosts and operators, licensing and planning authorities, letting agencies and platforms was been published to accompany the consultation.  You can find the consultation paper and all the other documents here.  The Scottish Government received over 1,000 consultation responses which are now being carefully considered as the Licensing Order is finalised for laying.

Next steps

The Licensing Order will be laid at the Scottish Parliament in November 2021.  Subject to the approval of the Licensing Order by the Scottish Parliament, local authorities will have until 1 October 2022 to establish a licensing scheme and existing hosts will have until 1 April 2023 to apply for a licence.  The Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government wrote to the Local Government, Housing and Planning Committee on 21 June 2021 explaining the forward plan and wrote again on 19 August 2021 to explain the change in laying date for the Licensing Order from September to November 2021.

Stakeholder working group

The Scottish Government’s stakeholder working group will be engaged in the consultation and continue to develop the guidance for the sector and local authorities over the summer.

Information on the stakeholder working group, including papers and notes of meetings, can be found here: Short-Term Lets Stakeholder Working Group.

Planning legislation: the Control Area Regulations

On 14 December 2020, the Control Area Regulations were laid at the Scottish Parliament. The Control Area Regulations were approved by the Scottish Parliament on 24 February 2021 and came into force on 1 April 2021.  Planning Circular 1/2021: Establishing a Short-Term Let Control Area was published on 25 June 2021.


April 2017 - The Scottish Government set up the Expert Panel on the Collaborative Economy to provide advice, expertise and experience for policy development and identify how Scotland could maximise the benefits of the collaborative economy, ensure that regulation is fit for purpose and that the wider economic, social and community impacts, including taxation, social inclusion and employment conditions are taken into account.

January 2018 - The panel reported that peer-to-peer accommodation expanded the range, choice and flexibility of accommodation for tourists in Scotland and welcomed the positive contribution which it made to Scotland's economy. However, the panel also highlighted a number of issues and challenges in relation to peer-to-peer accommodation, and short-term lets more broadly.

July 2018 - The Scottish Government published its response to the Expert Panel’s report, and this included the establishment of a Short-Term Lets Delivery Group.

The Short-Term Lets Delivery Group was established to assess the evidence base and the impact, positive and negative, of short-term lets; identify the existing powers local authorities have and explore whether further measures are required. The Group comprised officials from across relevant areas of government including: better regulation, community empowerment, economy, housing, licensing, planning, tax and tourism.

2019 consultation and independent research

September 2018 - Programme for Government 2018-19 made a commitment to ensure that local authorities have appropriate regulatory powers to balance the needs and concerns of their communities with wider economic and tourism interests.

April 2019 - The Scottish Government launched a consultation on a regulatory framework for short-term lets in Scotland which sought views on what those powers should be. This 2019 consultation paper was supplemented by a research annex, ‘The Short-Term Rental Sector, Housing and Tourism in Scotland’, providing an overview of the available evidence on short-term lets in Scotland and regulations introduced elsewhere in the world.

May 2019 – The Scottish Government commissioned research to explore the positive and negative impacts of short-term lets on communities, with a focus on neighbourhoods and housing.

July 2019 - The 2019 consultation closed, having received over 1,000 responses and found wide-ranging support for some form of regulation, appropriate to local circumstances.

October 2019 – The Scottish Government published a report on the 2019 consultation and independent research on the impact of short-term lets on communities.

2020 proposals for regulation

January 2020 - Following careful consideration of the 2019 consultation responses and the evidence provided by independent research, the Scottish Government announced proposals:

  • to establish a licencing for short-term lets, using powers under the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982, with a mandatory safety component which will apply to all short-term lets across Scotland;
  • to prioritise work to give local authorities the power to introduce short-term let control areas under powers in the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019; and
  • to undertake a review of the tax treatment of short-term lets, to ensure they make an appropriate contribution to the communities they operate in.

Further details can be found in the news release and in the official record of the Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning’s statement to the Scottish Parliament.

The 2020 consultation

In January 2020, we announced plans to establish a licensing scheme for short-term lets using powers under the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982, and to give local authorities the ability to introduce short-term let control areas under powers in the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019

In September 2020, we launched our 2020 consultation which set out a definition of short-term lets and detailed proposals on the licensing scheme and control areas.  The purpose of this consultation was to help the Scottish Government ensure that the legislation is as efficient and effective as possible.

We received over 1,000 responses to this consultation by the time it closed on 16 October 2020.  We published the 2020 consultation report on 10 December 2020.  The report sets out how we have listened to the many and various views expressed and refined and improved our proposals as a result.

The 2020 consultation report also includes six impact assessments:

  • Children’s Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment (CRWIA)
  • Equalities Impact Assessment (EQIA)
  • Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA)
  • Fairer Scotland Duty (FSD)
  • Island Communities Impact Assessment (ICIA)
  • Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA).

On 14 December 2020, the Licensing OrderControl Area Regulations and the Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment (BRIA) were laid at the Scottish Parliament.

Licensing legislation: the 2020 Licensing Order

On 14 December 2020, the 2020 Licensing Order was laid at the Scottish Parliament.

On 1 February 2021, the Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning wrote to the Local Government and Communities Committee to counter some of the misinformation and misunderstanding circulating in respect of the Scottish Government’s proposals.

On 18 February 2021, the Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning wrote to the Local Government and Communities Committee confirming that legislation for a short-term lets licensing scheme had been withdrawn from the Scottish Parliament to allow for draft guidance to be developed.

Further detail can be found in the news release and Minister’s video.

Review of tax treatment

The review of the tax treatment of short-term lets is being taken forward separately.



First published: 22 Mar 2020 Last updated: 25 Jun 2021 -