Vacation Home Licenses Called ‘Control Freakery’ by West Lothian Councilor

The Scottish government plans to allow holiday rentals will add unnecessary workload to council staff who have seen their number of cases increase by 3,000% since the start of the pandemic, officials have warned.

The controversial proposals have been called confusing and “control freakery” by West Lothian advisers.

And they urged licensed lawyers to ask questions of the Scottish Government when responding to the national consultation – including why legislation designed to solve a problem in towns – where permits have caused very obvious problems – is needed in areas such as West Lothian.

Questions also included the clear definition of a ‘vacation rental’, as well as the financial implications that the definitions generate as to whether properties qualify for council tax or commercial rates.

Gary McMullan, counsel to the board, this week presented the draft response to the consultation to the board’s environmental policy development and review committee.

He highlighted the size of the workload generated by necessary changes to licensing laws due to Covid regulations.

There is now a six-month backlog of applications submitted to the Licensing Board when there was none before.

In her draft response, Audrey Watson, the council’s licensing lawyer, asked why the proposed license should be compulsory rather than optional for local authorities.

She said: “Licensing programs that are mandatory involve public safety issues such as knife dealer licenses and skin piercing and tattooing, but public safety is probably not a factor in most. short-term rental license applications. “

The bill is controversial. He was rejected by groups who could help shape him. At the last meeting of a stakeholder working group set up to draft the legislation on August 4, members representing the Association of Scotland’s SelfCaterers, Airbnb, the Scottish B&B Association and the UK Short Term Accommodation Association all resigned.

Business organizations oppose the system and believe that if regulation is needed, it should be done through a registration system rather than a licensing system.

The legislation was triggered in response to growing problems in major cities, especially the capital, with vacation rental accommodation and problems caused by short-term rentals to neighbors.

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One of the suggestions of the proposed legislation is a 20-meter consultation area for neighbors of a property offered for short-term rental. According to lawyers, this would generate a mountain of paperwork to make the project impractical.

Chairing the meeting, Councilor Tom Conn pointed out that there were only 51 self-catering units registered in West Lothian. He suggested that the legislation would create problems where there were none.

“There has to be clarity on what a short term rental is. If the board makes a submission, we should also ask questions, ”he added.

Councilor Diane Calder said it was not clear how short-term rentals affect residents of West Lothian compared to those in cities.

Councilor Chris Horne suggested that the consultation project focused too much on the pressures the pandemic imposed on the licensing department, and that the current proposed legislation was “confusing at best”.

“This process should be as simple as possible. It must be easy for the neighbors to understand what the process is, and it is not clear.

Her Conservative colleague Alison Adamson called the bill a “centralized control freakery.”

McMullan has agreed to add the panel’s comments to his submission to the executive when he discusses the board’s response at the end of the month.

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