Scots councils get new powers on Airbnb-style lets

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The Scottish Government said local authorities are to be given new powers to regulate Airbnb-style short-term lets “where they decide this is in the interests of local communities.”

Housing Minister Kevin Stewart announced measures in the Scottish Parliament to provide local authorities with “the ability to implement a licensing scheme for short-term lets” from spring 2021.

The licensing scheme will include “a new mandatory safety requirement that will cover every type of short-term let to ensure a safe, quality experience for visitors.”

It will also 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.

Additionally, Ministers have committed to “carefully and urgently consider how short-term lets will be taxed in the future to ensure they make an appropriate contribution to local communities and support local services.”

Property firm Rettie & Co Research tweeted in response: “Inevitable that controls were on the way and levelling the playing field with the rest of the PRS on matters such as safety measures clearly welcomed.

“LAs should also have discretionary powers for hot-spot areas but how to enforce remains a key question.”

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.

“That is why we are empowering local authorities to implement a system that works for their area.

“By giving councils the power to set conditions around short-term lets licences and put in place planning control areas to tackle hot spots, communities across Scotland will be able to decide what is best for them and their local economy.

“Everybody wants visitors, hosts, neighbours and local residents to be safe.

“That is why the licensing scheme includes a safety element which will be mandatory across Scotland for all short-term lets.

“Separately, local authorities will be given discretion to include further conditions to help tackle littering or overcrowding of properties.

“These powers will allow local authorities to ensure a safe, quality experience for visitors, whilst protecting the interests of local communities.”