Short term lettings

Airbnb controls axed from licensing scheme

Door entry system

Controls will be modified

Regulations designed to prevent an “over provision” of Airbnb-style properties are to be dropped from a licensing scheme to control short term lettings.

Scotland’s Housing Secretary Shona Robison insisted they were not needed as powers for “control areas” being given to local councils could be used to prevent too many short-term lets from being set up in any given location.

The Scottish Government had announced plans for the licensing scheme amid concerns about the growth of Airbnb-style rentals in popular tourist areas such as Edinburgh.

But other accommodation providers such as B&Bs are already heavily regulated and felt they would be unfairly affected.

In a letter to MSPs on Holyrood’s Local Government, Housing and Planning Committee, Ms Robison said there would be “practical and significant changes” to the scheme.

These include a simplification of the way that neighbours are notified about licence applications, as well as removing personal names from the public register of short-term lets.

Ms Robison stressed that regulation of short-term lets was “vital to balance the needs and concerns communities have raised with wider economic and tourism interests”.

She added that the changes mean “local authorities can respond to the needs and concerns of local communities and neighbours to short-term lets without imposing onerous bureaucracy on responsible tourism businesses.”

Shona Robison

Shona Robison: vital balance (pic: Terry Murden)

Councils will have until October 2022 to set up a licensing scheme, with all short-term lets licensed by April 2024.

UKHospitality Scotland’s executive director Leon Thompson said the changes were “a step closer to the introduction of parity for all tourism accommodation providers in Scotland” and showed the government had “genuinely listened” to all sides.

He added: “UKHospitality Scotland has consistently called for the introduction of licensing for short-term lets to achieve a level playing field. This is to ensure our members do not continue to be put at a financial and competitive disadvantaged by the expanding rental market.”

Airbnb said: “Airbnb has long called for clear rules that work for Scotland. We are encouraged to see the Scottish Government listening to the concerns raised by Airbnb, the host community and industry partners on the impact the original measures could have on Scottish tourism.

“However, we still believe more progress should be made. It is vital that issues such as  the proposed system’s fees and the administration burden for hosts are properly addressed and we are committed to working with the Scottish Government to ensure this happens.”

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