Holyrood committee seeks advice on proposed licensing regime for short-term rentals

Let us know what you think and join the conversation at the bottom of this article.

The proposed licensing regime would impose regulations in an attempt to combat the growth of Airbnb-style rentals in popular tourist areas like Edinburgh.

Under the Scottish Government’s plans, councils would have until October 2022 to put in place a licensing system, with all short-term housing licensed by April 2024.

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About a third of all Airbnb rentals in Scotland are in Edinburgh Photo: Lisa Ferguson

Existing hosts and operators are expected to apply for a license by April 2023.

Ministers had initially hoped to introduce the new law before the May elections in Holyrood, but pushed back the plans following backlash from some PSMs, especially over fears that traditional guesthouses, which are not being considered as a problem, only get caught in the program.

The Scottish Parliament’s Local Government, Housing and Planning Committee must now consider the proposed legislation and invite the public to comment on the matter.

Committee Chair Ariane Burgess said: “The rise in popularity of short-term rentals has undoubtedly brought economic benefits to Scotland.

“However, what is becoming increasingly clear is that these benefits must be balanced with the need to protect our communities and the safety of those staying in short-term rentals.

“The Scottish Government has suggested that this proposed licensing scheme strike that balance, but we want to know if you think these measures are correct.

“Will the introduction of a licensing system ensure that the character of our neighborhoods is protected as well as the protection of those staying in short-term rentals? We want you to let us know.

A survey has been launched and will run until Friday, October 29. People can submit their opinions online.

About a third of all short-term rentals in Scotland are in the capital and the impact on local communities, particularly around the city center, has long been a concern.

The City Council is already conducting its own consultation on separate plans to declare the whole of Edinburgh a short-term rental control area under new legislation giving the authority specific powers to crack down on style housing Airbnb.

Edinburgh has led the way in asking local authorities to have more powers to control short-term rentals.

If the control zone goes ahead, all residential properties, which are not a landlord’s primary residence, used as short-term rentals in their entirety, would require a building permit to change use.

People who rent rooms in their home or rent out their property while on vacation would generally not be affected by the new rules.

But the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers (ASSC) said proposals to make the whole city a zone of control are “grossly disproportionate”.

And he advocated a registration system, with mandatory health and safety criteria, rather than licensing.

Last month, representatives from ASSC, Airbnb, Scottish B&B Association and UK Short Term Accommodation Association resigned from a Scottish government task force on short-term rentals, accusing it of ‘ignore their proposals for a registration system, that they would be more feasible, proportionate and profitable.

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Self-catering bosses accuse Edinburgh council chiefs of forcing them to escape Airbnb …

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