Parliament Approves Updates to Short-Term Let Licensing

MSPs have recently approved a series of technical adjustments to the short-term lets licensing scheme in response to feedback from accommodation operators. These modifications allow hosts to request a maximum of three temporary exemptions to the licensing scheme per calendar year, totaling no more than six weeks. Additionally, there have been clarifications to exclude foster care and guest rooms in specific residential accommodation from licensing requirements.

The introduction of licensing in 2022 aimed to reassure guests about safety and quality aspects, such as gas and electrical compliance, and the suitability of hosts. The regulations passed by the Scottish Parliament now enable licenses to be transferred to a new host, prospective hosts building a new short-term let to apply for a provisional license before construction is completed, and hosts to request a maximum of three license exemptions totaling six weeks in a calendar year.

In light of these changes, Minister for Housing Paul McLennan highlighted the importance of short-term let accommodation to Scotland’s tourism sector and wider economy. He emphasized that the licensing scheme strives to uphold responsible operators’ reputation and regulate the sector akin to hotels and caravan parks, ensuring consistent safety standards for guests while protecting the interests of local communities.

Andy Fenner, CEO of the UK Short Term Accommodation Association, commended the improvements, such as the ability to transfer licenses and greater flexibility concerning temporary exemptions. He expressed gratitude towards the Scottish Government for collaborating on these changes and echoed the industry’s anticipation for additional enhancements that will enhance the sector’s competitiveness in Scotland.

However, the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers voiced concerns that the recent amendments only scratch the surface and fall short of addressing critical challenges faced by the Scottish tourism industry. Fiona Campbell, the association’s CEO, stressed the urgency of tangible changes to support small and micro businesses that are at risk of closure due to the current licensing regulations. She emphasized the need for real solutions to prevent further damage to local businesses and the tourism sector in Scotland.

The message to the government is clear – substantial changes are imperative to prevent the continued closure of small indigenous Scottish businesses. Without meaningful reforms, the sector faces irreversible damage, impacting jobs, livelihoods, and the overall appeal of Scotland as a tourist destination.

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