Legislation on hold
SNP pulls ‘half-baked’ short-term lettings plan
Planned legislation that would introduce a licensing system for short-term lets has been temporarily withdrawn amid claims it has been badly framed.
Housing minister Kevin Stewart said the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 (Licensing of Short-term Lets) Order 2021 has been pulled, although the government intends to introduce it in the next parliament.
Labour accused the minister of a “screeching U-turn” which leaves the tourism sector, local authorities and communities in the dark.
It said it is the result of the SNP’s failure to listen to the concerns of the tourism sector, especially traditional B&B operators, and that the SNP’s proposals fail to support councils in the administration and operation of the proposed licensing scheme.
Scottish Labour local government spokesperson Sarah Boyack said the need for regulation of short-term lets is greater than ever, but that a “robust and fair” system is what is required, not “badly drafted, ill-thought out and half-baked legislation that penalises the tourism sector.”
She added: “This screeching U-turn is the result of the SNP’s failure to listen to the genuine concerns of the tourism sector and Scotland’s hard-pressed local authorities.
“Scottish Labour supports the regulation of short-term lets, but the SNP’s proposal, as it stood, risked unjustly penalising our tourism sector and foisting greater responsibilities onto our hard-pressed councils without providing any new support.
“We are in the midst of a housing crisis in Scotland, with 32,000 homes lost to short-term lets from 2016-2019 and communities left hollowed out by lack of action.
“Nonetheless, the SNP’s plans were not fit for purpose. We need an effective licensing scheme that has been developed in partnership with the tourism sector and our councils, that can successfully tackle the damage done by years of de-regulation.
“It’s time for Kevin Stewart to go back to the drawing board and put together a proper plan to regulate short-term lets that does not penalise our tourism sector or put more pressure on our over-burdened councils.”
Scottish Conservative Local Government Spokesperson Annie Wells said: “At long last the SNP Government have listened to the lobbying from tourism businesses and the Scottish Conservatives to withdraw these plans.
“However, they have failed to do the right thing and go further by committing that this is the end of the road for these regulations.
“If these regulations are brought back after the election, Scottish Conservative MSPs will stand with the industry and vote to scrap this illogical legislation.”
Scottish Conservative Shadow Rural Economy and Tourism Spokesman Jamie Halcro Johnston added: “Our tourism businesses have been devastated by the pandemic and the last thing they needed was being burdened by more regulations.
“Our small business owners are the lifeblood of Scotland’s economy and need to be supported by SNP Ministers rather than vilified. Our tourism industry needs to rebuild, rather than be strangled by red tape.
“Threatening to bring back these regulations in a matter of months fails to give the guarantees tourism businesses across rural Scotland have been crying out for in order to allow them to prosper going forward.”