Scottish Parliament committee backs airbnb licensing scheme

A Scottish Parliament committee voted in favor of proposals to introduce a licensing system for short-term rentals, as well as ‘control zones’ plans to limit their spread.

However, some MSPs on the Local Government Committee have expressed concern that guesthouses will be included in the licensing system alongside Airbnb-style self-catering accommodation.

The committee voted in favor of the licensing system by four to three, with another vote in favor of the control zones moving forward by six to one.

Appearing before the committee on Wednesday, Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said the scheme would not be “onerous” for operators, who would be required to pay around £ 300 per room for a three-year license.

Addressing the need to include guesthouses, he said: they are a traditional guesthouse building.

Stewart said the Scottish government has listened to concerns from the tourism industry, delaying implementation of plans until 2023 so hosts have more time to prepare.

Independent MSP Andy Wightman has long campaigned for tighter restrictions on short-term rentals in Edinburgh, but he voted against both aspects of the Scottish government’s proposals.

He said it was “fundamentally wrong” for ministers to have to give consent to control zones, arguing that local authorities should have the final say.

Regarding the licensing system, he said: “When we legislate, we have to be very, very careful to get it right.

“I am saddened that I have never considered or planned for guesthouses to be licensed, the same as other home sharing platforms.

“I am also quite distressed that they themselves seem to have believed that bed and breakfasts would not be included.”

Along with Wightman, Conservative MPs Jeremy Balfour and Alexander Stewart also voted against the licensing system.

Scottish Labor MP Sarah Boyack voted in favor of the two government proposals.

She said the powers for the control areas are needed “urgently”, adding: “If we only take Edinburgh, 10% of our housing stock has been lost to short-term rentals.

“That’s 14,000 homes taken out of long-term residential use – it has led to massive increases in rents, exacerbated the housing shortage for those who want to live and work in our city, and that adds to the distances that people have to go. “

The Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA) subsequently expressed its disappointment with the result of the vote.

He said: “The STA has in principle supported legislation, shaped by the industry, for the regulation of the short-term rental sector, but the mechanisms described in the proposed legislation as it stands could have a detrimental effect on an industry. large part of the area. .

“Today’s decision may now cause owners of businesses operating in the independent catering, bed and breakfast and Airbnb host industries to choose to close their doors once the legislation is enforced. “

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