Announcement made yesterday (8th Jan 2020) and below. I have a multitude of questions and practical considerations. Anyone care to speculate what will happen next?
Regulation of short-term lets
I am writing to inform you that the Scottish Government has today announced proposals for the regulation of short-term lets.
Our 2018-19 Programme for Government made a commitment to ensure that local authorities have appropriate regulatory powers to balance the needs and concerns of their communities with wider economic and tourism interests and ensure a safe, quality, experience for visitors.
We consulted widely last year in order to take forward that commitment, receiving over 1,000 responses to our consultation, which was announced by the First Minister in April 2019. In October 2019, we published the responses to the consultation, an independent summary of consultation responses and independent research on the impact of short-term lets on communities.
Kevin Stewart MSP, Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning announced in a statement to Parliament today that the Scottish Government will:
A news release with further details of the proposals announced today can be found here.
These measures will address the most pressing concerns raised by communities. They are a robust response to the issues presented by the rapid proliferation of short-term lets in hot-spot areas, particularly safety concerns, whilst recognising the many benefits of short-term lets to hosts, visitors and the Scottish economy. We will monitor the impact of these changes to ensure they are fully effective in meeting our aims and we will take further action if required.
Short-Term Lets Delivery Group
Speculate in terms of what @Steven65 ????
Licensing seems sensible, as do short term let control areas in places with high numbers of STRs which are impacting on communities, as does people being taxed on the profits they make from their STR business.
Hi @Helen3 I agree licensing and taxation is reasonable (we already pay business rates and income tax). But how will it work? The Council will also control numbers of STR in hot spots (which will affect me in Central Edinburgh). How will those numbers be determined, and who will be selected, or does it in practical terms mean an outright ban? Can we continue to take and honour existing bookings? Thanks.
Hi Steven @Steven65 thank you for the information! I was blissfully unaware of any government involvement into the short term letting, of my own house, until recently. I was hounded by a water company which snowballed into all sorts of nasty stuff. I am trying to find out as much information on the subject of short term let's (or is it 'Holiday Home Rentals') before I fill in a self assessment tax return (as far back as 2018!). Please let me know if there has been any further development. I will follow the link you added and am keen to know what was decided in Jan 2020 with regards to new scottish legislation, safety regulations, tax, etc, etc, etc. I'm surprised there hasn't been more interest in your post. Bye for now, @Dorothy128
The Covid situation has meant that the plans will not be fully implemented as quickly as they would like. They are giving existing hosts up to 2 years grace and then they must apply for a licence in the following 2 years. Originally all licences should be awarded by 2024 (exact dates unknown.) No new hosts will be allowed meantime until the licence scheme is in place.
The rules are quite draconian, guests should be met at the start of the stay and have the rules read out to them (I do that anyway), so no lockboxes or people arriving at strange hours disturbing the neighbours. Floors should be carpeted (flats) or cushioned vinyl - no hard floors, and so it goes on and on! The licence is around £400 apparently and lasts for 5 years but as they have not set this out this may change. Obviously all alarm, electricity and gas checks need to be done.
I can't see many people being bothered with all that if they are just offering one place I'm not sure that I could make it pay and generally speaking (not this year obvs) I am fairly busy.
Hi Jen. Thank you for the update. Do you know anything more about the license application? If I understand you correctly, it sounds like applications will commence in 2022 and must be completed by 2024. Thanks again.
Councils in Scotland have from 1 April 2021 to put in place the system for licensing STRs inc B&Bs in their areas. This should be in place by 01 April 2022 at the latest.
Existing hosts have until 01 April 2023 to register their properties but will be allowed to accept guests until their registration is approved/denied.
Current projected costs dependent on the scale of the business are £227-£377 for a 3 year licence.
There is talk of a short term temporary licence to cover peak times of the year (e.g. Edinburgh Festival) when extra accommodation is needed but no further information as of yet.
Also the limit on STRs in any given area not mentioned either. My guess is they will wait to see how many properties are actually registered before they rule in areas like the Old Town.
I don't live in Scotland but as a host with one place, I would be happy to comply with the conditions you outline as most of them I have in place anyway i.e. meeting guests in person. £400 sounds reasonable for five years and will be tax deductable. @Jen89 So for me the only additional cost would be carpeting communal areas downstairs should I wish to continue to host.
As STR hosts we already need to have alarm, electricity and gas certificates/checks in place.
My only issues would be in terms of accomodation being carpeted as I have asthma so have wooden floors downstairs.
The flooring thing seems bizarre; surely several things should be considered when deciding if this applies.
What sort of property; rustic rural cottage or city centre apartment?
Who is being hosted; family with young children, disabled access, couple with pets?
What facilities are in place already; underfloor heating doesn't work as well under carpet, and of course there are dust/dirt issues with soft fabrics that hard floors negate.
It's the 'one solution applied to every scenario' attitude that leads to ridiculous rules that aren't fit for purpose but get applied across the board regardless. Nobody really benefits except the politicians who claim to have achieved something, and the councils who get to charge for unneccesary services.
Update: The Scottish Government after much lobbying from Tourist Agencies, B&B groups etc have now withdrawn the legislation for further consideration! It will be re-introduced to the Scottish Parliament in June 2021 and changes may well be made.
The general concensus seems to be that a 'one size fits all of Scotland' approach will harm tourism and employment in many rural areas of Scotland.
Strangely the time line for registration remains the same, although Councils were apparently not happy with being landed with the registration process.
Watch this space!
@Jen89 Hi Jen. Thank you for this update. I too read the announcement. Sees very odd to withdraw the legislation in February to then re-introduce it in June, when the consultation and amendments will probably take much longer, and as you say, the registration deadlines are unchanged. The hospitality industry is still stalled , so can only see this one dragging out.
Hi all. I'll watch this one with interest as I'm in the process of establishing a listing. Does anybody know if the gorvernment has had the sense to recognise the difference between the various types of property we all host, or the locations we host them in? I'm quite sure that my isolated rural cottage with it's own access track is quite a different scenario to somebody with a city centre flat with numerous neighbours sharing the same access.
I have very little faith in the government applying common sense in this situation (they don't in most others) and dragging us up to the same onerously strict standards that traditional licenced B&Bs struggle with (practically and financially) is only going to hurt tourism - that industry that Scotland relies upon from the largest player down to the smallest host.
Fingers crossed they get themselves in such a tangle that they simply give up on legislation or take the path of least resistance and make it easier for everybody to provide safe hosted venues.
Update to schedule, July 2021. Article 7 gives existing hosts one year from 1 October 2022 to submit a licensing application. Licensing authorities have 12 months to determine such applications. Until 1 April 2023, existing hosts can operate a short-term let without a licence. Until 1 April 2024, existing hosts can operate a short-term let without a licence, provided they made an application by 1 April 2023. On or after 1 April 2024 operating without a licence is unlawful in all cases. On or after 1 October 2022, it is an offence for any person to continue to operate after their licence application has been determined and refused. All hosts in Scotland must be licensed by 31 March 2024 at the very latest.
Edinburgh Council now set to start its own licensing scheme separate from the Scot Gov one. It will apply to all areas of the city not just the city centre and Leith where there is a proliferation of STLs. Application for a change of use will need to be made and approved by the Council unless you have been operating without any complaints for 10 years.
Watch out for further details!