Dear Local Government, Housing and Planning Committee and Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government, Shona Robison,
We, the undersigned, are writing to express in the strongest terms possible our belief that overprovision powers must be returned to the Short-Term Lets Licensing Order.
These powers were included within the draft Licensing Order published in December 2020 but the ministers removed them in October 2021. They enabled councils to deny licences to short-term lets on the grounds of ‘overprovision’ resulting in the loss of available local housing . Overprovision powers are critical if this licensing order is to deliver a just deal for communities and tenants. Without these, local authorities will be powerless to address homelessness, poverty, and depopulation.
Ministers justified the removal of overprovision powers on the basis that powers to designate Short-Term Let Control Areas are sufficient to effectively manage excessive density of short-term lets. We firmly believe that this conclusion misunderstands and underestimates the crisis that is facing the Highlands and Islands. Simply put: it is not possible to implement control areas without existing reference to ‘overprovision’. Control areas will not have the “same effect” as the overprovision powers because control areas cannot stop the explosion of short-term let numbers in our communities in short periods of time and will not stem the tide of housing loss and destruction of our neighbourhoods. Councils urgently need the tools to be able to act responsively and quickly to the needs of local communities.
There is well established evidence about the impact of short-term lets on the local housing market. We know that short-term lets inflate surrounding rents, undermine affordability for all tenants and displace members of our communities. As the Government progresses regulation of the private rented sector (PRS), there is a clear danger that leaving short-term lets under-regulated risks shifting existing homes from the PRS into the short-term lets sector.
Every short-term let is one less home in our communities, and in large parts of Scotland, the density is already far too great. Any new regulatory measures which do not give councils sufficient power to limit the number of short-term lets now, rather in five years time, will have failed to meet our communities’ needs. The Scottish Government’s co-operation agreement made grand promises about a new deal for tenants, but without tackling short-term lets, this cannot be delivered.
We strongly urge the Cabinet Secretary to reinstate the power to refuse licences on the grounds of overprovision into the short-term lets licensing order. Nothing less will address the needs of tenants and our communities.
We look forward to your response by the end of the year.
Click on this link if you wish to support the open letter with your signature: REINSTATE OVERPROVISION POWERS TO THE SHORT-TERM LETS LICENSING ORDER.