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Short lets supporters push back against possible restrictions

The new body representing short let digital platforms like Airbnb and the large number of associated companies that have sprung up around this sector, is voicing concern at possible restrictions introduced by the Scottish Government.

The Scottish Government is devolving powers to local councils to tackle problems created following the growth of short lets. 

Licensing schemes can be introduced from 2021 to allow local authorities to set designated areas where planning permission is needed before properties can be let out this way.


The scheme will also set safety requirements for all short-term lets, with councils given additional powers to impose conditions to help tackle littering or overcrowding of properties.

The Association of Residential Letting Agents has backed the move, calling for a level playing field for all lettings.

But now the UK Short Term Accommodation Association and Association of Scotland's Self-Caterers have sent a joint letter to the Scottish Government housing minister Kevin Stewart MSP requesting “clarification” on five points.

These are:

1. A clear definition of what is, and what is not short-term letting activity “so that boundaries are clear for those operating in the short-term and long-term rental sectors, and we can properly understand the target of these regulations”;

2. The proposed licensing regime – “more details are needed on the criteria, the proposed duration of licences, the administrative processes that operators will need to follow, and the associated guidance that must ensure consistency and proportionality across Scotland”;

3. The costs of the licensing and planning permission system – “ensuring that these are truly proportionate to the costs of administration, and set at a level that does not unduly burden those who are renting very infrequently, or that layers further expense on established businesses who are already making a contribution to local authorities”;

4. How control zones will be defined – “what evidence will be needed to justify their introduction, and how they will be reviewed, and what policy responses to those zones are appropriate and proportionate”; and

5. The interplay between regulation and taxation – “recognising the potential of the ... sector as a source of tax revenue for the Government, while also acknowledging that unduly restrictive regulation of the sector may discourage activity, leading to a reduction in tax revenues. Further analysis is needed to ensure that interventions like changes to business rates and new tourist levies and taxes do not result in unintended outcomes.”


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