New licensing system delayed for short-term property lets

Councils are being given until April 2022 to introduce the new measures.

It could be April 2022 before a new licensing system for Airbnb-style short term lets is up and running across Scotland.

As a consultation on its proposals was published, it emerged local authorities will be given up to a year to introduce the measures.

Details of the implementation period emerged as housing minister Kevin Stewart vowed the Scottish Government would bring in new laws if the licensing scheme fails to tackle problems linked to short-term lets.

In addition to requiring hosts to obtain a licence before letting out a property on a short-term basis, minsters also propose that councils can introduce control areas – where such lets can be restricted or barred altogether.

The changes are being brought in after concerns were raised about the impact these type of property lets have in areas such as Edinburgh – one of the most popular places for Airbnb listings.

Research for the Scottish Government found that in May 2019 there were just under 22,100 active listings of whole properties on Airbnb in Scotland.

The Government consultation paper said while the new measures are “expected to come into force in April 2021” it was understood that local councils – who will run the the licensing schemes – would require time to implement then.

“We recognise that some local authorities will be more advanced in their planning to do this than others,” the paper said.

“For this reason, we are giving local authorities discretion as to when they bring the provisions into force in their area.

“However, all local authorities must have a live licencing scheme open to receive licensing applications by April 1 2022.”

To help councils and others prepare for the changes, the Scottish Government will produce new guidance on the scheme in the spring of next year.

Mr Stewart insisted ministers had taken a “proportionate but fair” approach to the issue.

He said the proposals outlined in the consultation “allow us to make progress in this Parliament to address a pressing issue for some of our communities”.

But he added the changes would “not unduly curtail the many benefits of short-term lets to hosts, visitors and the Scottish economy”.

The minister pledged: “We will monitor and evaluate the impact of our proposals to ensure that they are effective and targeted.

“I am willing to bring a Bill before Parliament in the next session if we continue to see issues; to do so now would result in unnecessary delay.”

He stated: “Short-term lets can offer people a flexible and affordable accommodation option, and they 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 these arrangements can cause problems for neighbours and make it harder for people to find homes to live in.

“Our proposals will allow local authorities and communities facing the most severe pressures to take action to manage those more effectively from next year.”

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