Short-term lets: regulation information

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


The Minister for Housing wrote to the Scottish Parliament’s Local Government, Housing and Planning Committee on 28 June 2023 to provide an update on the implementation of short-term let licensing in Scotland.

As part of this, the Minister advised a further update would follow in 2024 and that the Scottish Government would confirm the scope later in 2023.

In October 2023, the Minister wrote to the Committee again to outline the scope of an ongoing iterative process to monitor delivery and to identify solutions to any operational challenges, as well as what emerging good practice looks like.

The scope of the 2024 update is to:

  • report and reflect on initial short-term let licence application levels across Scotland, in the context of estimates recorded in the independent research undertaken in 2019;
  • consider current operational processes; and
  • identify operational improvements, where appropriate, and update previously published impact assessments with actual data in place of estimated information, where available.

The Minister clarified it is not in scope to amend the core principles of licensing, which the Committee and Parliament recognised as being integral to the original legislation. This forms the basis for local schemes to which many thousands of hosts have already applied for licences. This means the intent is not to alter licensing types (home-sharing, home letting and secondary letting), the core principles of licensing (mandatory and additional conditions, public scrutiny and opportunity to object) or the delegation of powers to licensing authorities to administer local licensing schemes.

In January 2024, the Minister provided information to the Committee about progress with the implementation update. This advised that the Scottish Government is publishing quarterly official statistics about short-term let licensing applications. We started publishing the statistics about licence applications in August 2023. We expect the next statistical publication to cover the period up to 31 December 2023 to be published on 23rd of May 2024.

We are taking two initial actions, as a result of initial monitoring work as follows:

  • we will bring forward an affirmative Scottish Statutory Instrument that will amend The Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 (Licensing of Short-term Lets) Order 2022
  • we are working with Scotland’s Housing Network to convene a new short life sub-group specifically to explore short-term let licensing operational improvements.

Representations from industry bodies, agritourism and hosts/operators emphasised the importance of enabling the sector to continue to thrive, while being compliant with regulation. The legislation amendments will therefore include:

  • the introduction of powers enabling the transfer of short-term let licences (which will aid the selling and purchase of short-term let accommodation);
  • the option for prospective hosts constructing buildings for short-term let use to apply for a provisional licence that can be confirmed once the premises are complete (which will support the financial lending approval process);
  • exclusions for guest rooms in specific types of accommodation (which will cover hospitals, nursing homes and sheltered housing); and
  • exclusions for short-term emergency accommodation provided by foster carers for foster child/ren (long-term term care where the accommodation is the foster child’s main residence is already excluded).

We are developing these amendments at pace. While we intended to lay these before Parliament in February 2023, the Minister advised the Committee that we were still engaging with stakeholders to refine the amendments. On 22 April 2024 we informed Parliament that the new date to lay the Scottish Statutory Instrument is 16 May 2024.

Core membership of the new short life sub-group to explore short-term let licensing operational improvements includes several licensing authority volunteers. It will liaise with other groups as required including the Industry Advisory Group (facilitated by Visit Scotland), SOLAR and the wider Scotland’s Housing Network short-term let licensing information sharing forum.

We intend to provide the Scottish Parliament with the more comprehensive update on short-term let licensing implementation at the end of June 2024. This will be informed by:

  • analysis of official statistics for the period 1 October 2022 to 31 December 2023;
  • information about local operation of licensing schemes;
  • data gathered via Heads of Planning Authorities about planning activity for short-term lets since licensing was introduced;
  • findings from engagement, including what further actions will/ are being taken in partnership with COSLA/ licensing authorities and other stakeholders;
  • areas that require further monitoring (and consultation) before action might be taken;
  • consideration of ongoing monitoring structures and feedback mechanisms;
  • actual data in place of estimated information in previously published impact assessments, where available and within scope.
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