Licensing on hold
Event concerns delay curb on short-term lets
Short term letting rules have been delayed for six months by the Scottish Government over concern that they threaten a vital source of accommodation for visitors during cultural events.
On the back of the legislation, Edinburgh City council announced a new licensing regime that includes a presumption against the letting out of homes within tenements buildings.
The council agreed to allow temporary exemptions to be granted to allow people to rent out entire properties or spare rooms during the summer and winter festivals.
However, festival organisers claim the red tape involved in the new procedure risks the loss of thousands rooms for performers and workers.
There was criticism that those applying for a temporary licence faced the same conditions and demands as people renting out properties on a commercial basis throughout the year.
In a letter to the Convener of the Local Government Committee Ariane Burgess, Housing secretary Shona Robison confirmed the decision to delay introducing the system from 1 April to 1 October.
She said it was a “one-off six month extension” which recognises the wider economic circumstances of the cost of living crisis that is placing pressure on existing short-term let hosts and businesses.
However, it would not significantly delay the primary aim of ensuring consistent safety standards and addressing issues faced by residents and communities.
It means second homes, flats or spare rooms will be available for the festivals next year without the need for completing any paperwork.
Fringe Society chief executive Shona McCarthy said: “The history of home-sharing during the festivals goes right back to their earliest days. The idea that that was almost going to become impossible would have been the final nail in the coffin. This really is a stay of execution.
“No-one could have predicted what the unintended consequences of the new legislation would be. But our voices have been heard. This gives us more time to look at the impacts of the new legislation and what other roads we could go down.”
Fiona Campbell, chief executive of the Association of Scotland’s Self Caterers, which has also been lobbying the government for a rethink, said: “Operators were faced by eye-watering fees in a confusing and inconsistent system, jeopardising jobs and livelihoods in an important part of Scotland’s tourism industry.
“We are pleased our hard work, as well as the efforts from our friends across the Scottish tourism industry, has resulted in this development.
“We have been pressing hard for a pause to the implementation of the scheme due to the cost of living crisis so it’s good to know our voices are being heard.
“We do see this as progress and will continue to push forward on behalf of our members, however we know there’s lots of work still to do to.”