Humza Yousaf has ruled out a further delay to short-term let licensing despite pressure from the sector.
Under new proposals, property owners wishing to let their properties out on a short-term basis must apply to the Scottish Government’s licensing scheme before the October 1 deadline to ensure they can continue trading.
The deadline has already been pushed back by six months, but some in the sector have asked for more time from Government.
But speaking on Monday, the First Minister said: “There will not be another extension to the deadline.
“It is the right thing to do to bring this licensing scheme in.
“There has, of course, been an extension already.”
Yousaf added that he understood there were concerns about the scheme, with a recent report to a committee at Edinburgh City Council suggesting up to 80% of short-term let properties – such as those on booking giant Airbnb – could be lost in the city.
“I know that there are some concerns,” he said.
“We continue to work with the sector, in fact Cabinet Secretary Neil Gray met with the sector, I think it was just last week.
“We’ll continue to engage with the sector where we can but there’ll be no more extensions.”
Yousaf’s comments come in the wake of concerns from the owners of short-term rental properties, such as those on Airbnb, that the changes are an “act of self-sabotage on their businesses and livelihoods”.
The report submitted to City of Edinburgh Council’s policy and sustainability committee said there is “an assumption of an 80% reduction from the Edinburgh 2021 number of active listings reported on Airbnb, as a proxy for the size of short-terms lets”.
The licensing scheme, being implemented by local councils, would require hosts to display energy performance ratings on listings, have adequate buildings and public liability insurance, as well as various fire and gas safety precautions.
Fiona Campbell, chief executive of the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers, said the legislation “has the potential to make Scotland a laughing stock”.
“A country inflicting harm to its economy, businesses and its people, all the while confused about why it’s doing so,” she added.
“It’s disappointing, and deeply saddening, that the First Minister is digging his heels in, as small tourism businesses across the country prepare to close their doors and worry about how they will put food on the table.
“After the shambles of DRS and plans to ban alcohol marketing, the Scottish Government made a virtue of its desire to engage with industry and listen to their concerns. We foolishly believed them.
“This policy is threatening the livelihood of countless small businesses – bed and breakfasts, self-catered cottages and the restaurants, cafes, taxis and other businesses supported by the tourism they bring.
“Meanwhile, corporately owned aparthotels are exempt from the SNP/Greens plans.”