What are your views on short term lets?
Used by many owners of second properties (sometimes multiple homes) to bring in cash the Covid crisis has brought the issue into sharp focus as lockdown revealed just how many empty properties were in our communities.
There were already many concerns being raised about the use of short term lets which were seen to be adding to the shortage of housing in many communities – in urban, rural and island areas. In May 2019 there were 22,100 Airbnb properties listed in Scotland but it is known that there are many more short term lets taking place.
The Scottish Government is now consulting on a licensing scheme to be enforced on the owners of these properties.
Local authorities would be given extra powers to enable them to deal with multiple issues surrounding short term lets – for example planning, noise levels and littering.
The proposals would include conditions which would apply to the whole of Scotland but with the opportunity for local flexibility on some matters. It would be local authorities who would manage the licensing of the properties.
The consultation documents include a definition of what is meant by a ‘Short Term Let‘ where all of the following criteria are met:
- residential – the let is made to one or more guests for them to reside at
- accommodation – the accommodation is all or part of a house or flat
or serviced apartment (but it is not on the premises of a hotel or other
class 7 premises in the UCO)
- temporary – the accommodation is not the guests’ only or principal
- commercial – the let is for commercial consideration (i.e. for money or
benefit in kind to the host, such as provision of a service or reciprocal
use of a property); and
- excludes immediate family – none of the guests are members of the
same immediate family as the host or host’s household (i.e. father,
mother, brother, sister, son or daughter
It includes – Lets where the accommodation provided is a bed in a bedroom shared with other guests or a sofa bed in a living room.
With these proposals all short term lets will require a licence. Owners of such properties are being encouraged to apply for licences and planning permission (where that is needed) with councils having a grace period to allow this to take place.
It is intended that the licensing scheme will be ready by 1st April 2021 but with an additional year in which councils can get their systems ready for it.
Local authorities will be able to charge fees to cover the setting up and running costs of the licensing scheme. The maximum fine for operating a short term let without a licence is proposed to be £50,000.
The closing date for the Scottish Government consultation is Friday 16th of October 2020.
All responses have to be done online via Citizen Space (http://consult.gov.scot). Access and respond to this consultation online at https://consult.gov.scot/housing-services-policy-unit/short-term-letslicensing-scheme/.