The Scottish government will give local authorities new powers to regulate 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.
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.”
The licensing scheme 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.
In addition, ministers have committed to consider how short-term lets will be taxed in the future.
David Cox, chief executive at ARLA Propertymark, welcomed the measures.
He added: “It’s positive to see that the Scottish Government are taking steps to regulate short term lets.
“In some urban areas, the supply of local housing is under intense pressure and as the private rental sector becomes increasingly regulated, landlords are moving further towards the less regulated short-term letting space which further reduces this supply.
“This can also result in lower quality accommodation for tenants and overall creates a vastly uneven playing field.
“By further regulating the sector, local authorities will be able to control the number of short-term lets in Scotland, but also ensure that effective health and safety requirements are put in place to protect those seeking a short-term let.”
Shomik Panda, director general of the UK Short Term Accommodation Association (STAA), said: “Whilst we are disappointed that the government has felt it necessary to introduce a mix of initiatives that could lead to an uncertain and fragmented regulatory environment in Scotland, we remain positive about the industry and will work constructively to ensure that the new rules will be workable when they come into effect next year.
“We will work with stakeholders and hosts to ensure there is compliance with the new regulations and continue to represent the interests of a maturing industry that wants to grow responsibly.”