Publication - Advice and guidance

Short-term lets: regulation information

Published: 21 Jan 2020

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

21 Jan 2020
Short-term lets: regulation information

We are committed to ensuring that local authorities have appropriate regulatory powers to balance the needs and concerns of their communities with wider economic and tourism interests.

In April 2019, the Scottish Government launched a first consultation and commissioned independent research into the impact of short-term lets on people and communities.  The 2019 consultation paper set out our understanding of the benefits of, and issues around, short-term lets, the principles that would help to guide our approach, and some proposed approaches to regulation. 

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 give local authorities the power to introduce short-term let control areas under powers in the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019.  On Monday 14 September 2020 we launched a second consultation which sets out a definition of short-term lets and detailed proposals to create the licensing scheme and establish control areas, which will form the basis for secondary legislation to be laid in Parliament in December. The regulations, if passed by Parliament, would come into force by April 2021.

The purpose of this consultation, which runs until Friday 16 October 2020, is to help the Scottish Government ensure that the legislation laid at the Scottish Parliament in December is as efficient and effective as possible. 


Short-term lets have become the subject of controversy in parts of Scotland and evoke strong opinions. For many, short-term lets using Airbnb and similar platforms have enabled cheaper, more flexible travel, but others – particularly in tourist hotspots, like the centre of Edinburgh, and Skye – are concerned they make it harder to find homes to live in.

The Scottish Government set up the Expert Panel on the Collaborative Economy in April 2017 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.

The panel reported that peer-to-peer accommodation expands the range, choice and flexibility of accommodation for tourists in Scotland and we welcome the positive contribution which it can make 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. The Scottish Government’s response to the panel’s report was published on 10 July 2018, and committed us to a range of actions, including establishing a Short-Term Lets Delivery Group.

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 comprises officials from across relevant areas of government including: better regulation, community empowerment, economy, housing, licensing, planning, tax and tourism. 

Consultation and independent research

Our 2018-2019 Programme for Government 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. 

The First Minister launched a consultation on a regulatory framework for short-term lets in Scotland in April 2019 which sought views on what those powers should be. The 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

The consultation closed on 23 July 2019, receiving over 1,000 responses and finding wide-ranging support for some form of regulation, appropriate to local circumstances. Responses highlighted a number of concerns about the effects of short-term lets, including safety, anti-social behaviour, and impact on the housing market. However, the economic benefit to communities was also highlighted for example by providing business for small enterprises such as pubs, restaurants, cafes and grocery shops. Responses to the consultation (where consent has been given to publish), together with an independent analysis of the consultation responses were published on 28 October 2019. Further details can be found in the news release.

In addition, we published independent research on the impact of short-term lets on communities. This research was commissioned to explore the positive and negative impacts of short-term lets on communities, with a focus on neighbourhoods and housing. It involved short-term let hosts, residents, local businesses and community actors across five locations in Scotland. 

The research highlighted a number of positive impacts of short-term lets on communities, including local economic benefits associated with tourism and increased household income for hosts. However, the research also confirmed that negative impacts on communities’ quality of life, reduced availability of residential housing and increased strain on local public services were among the key negative impacts.

Regulation of short-term lets: announcement 8 Jan 2020

Following careful consideration of consultation responses and the evidence provided by independent research, the Scottish Government will:

  • introduce licencing for short-term lets, under the Civilc Government (Scotland) Act 1982, with a mandatory safety component which will apply to all short-term lets across Scotland. Local authorities will also be given the discretion to put in place further conditions.
  • prioritise work to give local authorities the power to introduce short-term let control areas under powers in the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019.
  • 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, with a full copy of the Minister’s statement available.