Warning to government
Short term letting licences ‘a threat’ to rural businesses
Rural businesses object to licensing plans
New proposed licensing laws to control the short-term letting sector fail to reflect the needs of rural businesses and could force some to close, it has been claimed.
Scottish Land & Estates, which represents rural businesses and landowners, says there is widespread concern over the “one size fits all” approach proposed by government.
It fears the licensing proposal, designed to ease pressure on residential communities in towns and cities, will impact adversely on rural glamping sites, B&Bs and holiday cottages.
SLE warns that these proposals have been shaped with mainly urban hot spot areas in mind and fails to take into account the important role short-term lets play across rural Scotland.
It adds that it could have a devastating impact at a time when people are reeling from the wide-scale impacts of Covid-19 and instead calls for a simple registration scheme.
SLE policy adviser, Simon Ovenden, said: “We absolutely agree that the safety of people using short-term lets is paramount and communities should not be driven apart by a lack of available long-term housing in their local area.
“We are, however, very concerned that this one size fits all approach fails to reflect the needs of rural communities and could lead to mass closures of short-term accommodation, which would have a massive impact on rural Scotland.
“In our view, the Scottish Government needs to have a serious reassessment about these proposals.
“We believe a simple registration scheme akin to the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers’s proposal would be a positive step forward and in tune with the interests of all parties.
“This would allow proper enforcement of existing health and safety standards and appropriate planning policy which prioritises housing development for residential use without excessive bureaucracy and spiralling costs.”
SLE’s concerns are that:
- licensing fees and administration costs have been significantly underestimated with some licences potentially costing thousands of pounds.
- the consultation process is potentially in breach of Scottish Government’s own best practice guidelines in terms of transparency, accountability, proportionality, and consistency
- the Scottish Government’s ‘Rural Scotland Key Facts’ report published in February 2021 contains important and directly pertinent information which calls into question much of the motivation and reasoning for the licensing of short term lets across Scotland, and rural areas in particular.
- the Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment (BRIA) has failed in its duty to take a Scotland-wide view of the industry, is deeply flawed and recent resignations from the related industry working group show it is not widely supported by affected businesses.
- by the proposals being taken forward as secondary legislation, this does not offer an appropriate level of scrutiny for such a fundamental change and at a time of crisis for the sector that will be most heavily impacted.