Tories urge ministers to ‘see sense’ and pause short-term let licensing changes

Business owners have raised concern about the new system for Airbnb-style properties.

Tories urge ministers to ‘see sense’ and pause short-term let licensing changes STV News

MSPs are to vote on calls for a new licensing regime for short-term let properties to be delayed for a year – with Tories insisting ministers must “see sense” and “pause these destructive plans”.

Business owners have already raised their concerns about the new system for Airbnb-style properties ahead of its introduction on October 1.

Now, with some MSPs at Holyrood also speaking out against the changes, Tories are to force a vote on the issue.

It comes after veteran SNP MSP Fergus Ewing joined those calling on the Scottish Government to further delay the changes – which have already been pushed back by six months.

Ministers insist the scheme will ensure short-term let properties are regulated in the same way as other types of accommodation, such as hotels and caravan parks.

However, a survey by the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers (ASSC) previously found 64% of operators are considering leaving the sector because of the change.

Speaking ahead of Wednesday’s debate at Holyrood, Conservative business and tourism spokesman Murdo Fraser said: “Ministers must see sense, listen to businesses and pause these destructive plans before it’s too late.”

The Tory MSP said: “This scheme – however well-intended some of its provisions are – is going to have huge and catastrophic unintended consequences if it goes ahead next month.

“It was designed to tackle problem city-centre units, but B&Bs, guest houses and those seeking house-swap arrangements will now be hit with crippling additional costs and bureaucracy.

“There is a real danger this will destroy small businesses and have a huge knock-on impact on the wider Scottish economy.

“Ministers risk repeating the mistakes of the shambolic deposit return scheme by ignoring the stark warnings of businesses and stubbornly ploughing ahead with a fatally-flawed policy.”

Housing minister Paul McLennan said: “Regulation of short-term lets has been introduced at a time of significant growth and change in the sector, and to make sure that accommodation is safe, including gas safety certificates and suitable electrical equipment, as well as responding to community concerns on the impacts.

“Over the past four years, ministers in a range of capacities have engaged with the sector, listening and responding to feedback, this includes several meetings in recent weeks and months.

“We have already brought forward a one-off six-month extension to the scheme, which means existing hosts have had 20 months to comply with conditions and a year to prepare and submit their application.

“No operator to date has been refused a licence, among those who have already applied.

“The responsible thing to do is for everyone to get behind the task of encouraging and supporting those short-term let hosts that must apply for a licence before the October 1 deadline, in order to continue operating.”

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