Local authorities in Scotland are to be given new powers to regulate short-term lets “where they decide this is in the interests of local communities”.
These will include implementing a licensing scheme for short-term lets from spring 2021 and compulsory registration.
The scheme will give councils the discretion to apply further conditions to address the concerns of local residents. Councils will be able to designate control areas to ensure that planning permission will always be required for the change of use of whole properties for short-term lets.
Local government minister Kevin Stewart said: “Short-term lets can offer people a flexible travel option and have contributed positively to Scotland’s tourism industry and local economies across the country.
“However, we know that in certain areas, particularly tourist hot spots, high numbers of short-term lets are causing problems and often make it harder for people to find homes to live in.”
Short-term lets control areas will be introduced using powers at section 17 of the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019. Home sharing - renting a room in your own home or allowing others to stay in your own home whilst on holiday - will not be affected by control areas.
UKHospitality executive director for Scotland Willie Macleod said: “We are pleased to see the Scottish government look to bring in long-overdue registration and powers to control the massive and uncompetitive growth in largely unregulated short-term letting. The recent boom in short-term lets has brought with it increased choice for customers, but also a plethora of problems for residents and a raft of debatable business practices.
“Too many businesses have had an unfair advantage compared to hotels and other accommodation businesses, escaping business taxes and operating, sometimes, without important safeguards in place. This undermines hospitality businesses who have already been hammered by rising costs in recent years and potentially puts customers at risk.
“We are pleased to see that these businesses will not be exempt from any Tourist Tax and we await further detail on how the proposed taxation of short-term lets will proceed and note the requirement for planning change of use for whole properties for short-term lets.”