Licensing applications from the short-term lets scheme are taking at least 12 weeks to process in almost half of Scotland’s local authorities, according to new figures.
Figures obtained through freedom of information requests from the Scottish Conservatives show that 12 council areas took longer than three months to decide on an application, while two – Aberdeen City and Shetland – took around 12 weeks.
Scottish Tory business spokesman Murdo Fraser said the delays were “unacceptable” and “bureaucratic” after the party led calls for the scheme to be delayed.
Hosts, including Airbnb properties and guesthouses, had until October 1 to apply for the controversial scheme to continue operating, despite industry and opposition calls to halt the legislation due to costly application fees.
The data shows operators in Glasgow were among those waiting the longest, with 121 days before their applications were granted, while Highlands, Moray, North Ayrshire and South Lanarkshire had more than 100 days to wait.
Dundee City Council and South Ayrshire said operators waited an average of four months, while Renfrewshire said “most” were resolved within that time period.
The shortest waits, according to the data, was in East Dunbartonshire, with a 29-day average.
Councils in Angus, East Ayrshire, Perth and Kinross and Inverclyde did not hold the requested data.
Mr Fraser said: “The Scottish Conservatives, small businesses and the tourism industry repeatedly warned the SNP-Green government about the damage these reckless regulations were likely to cause.
“But ministers stubbornly refused to listen and, instead of pausing for consultation, ploughed ahead with their plans.
“They insisted that the requirements were not onerous, and would have little impact on the sector, yet licences have already been refused for buildings that are under the control of ministers themselves.
“And it turns out that operators are facing not just unnecessary bureaucratic obstacles, but unacceptable delays because Scotland’s councils – which have been starved of cash by the SNP-Greens – are ill-equipped to process applications.
“This is yet another example of the Nationalist coalition hammering small businesses and our tourism sector.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Short-term lets operators who applied before October 1 can continue to operate while their applications are being assessed.
“Operators have come forward with significant numbers of applications now so licensing authorities continue to process and grant licence applications, for new and existing hosts, and are continually updating their publicly available registers to reflect the status and numbers of applications.
“The introduction of licensing safeguards the role short-term let accommodation plays in our economy by providing assurance to guests on safety and quality, such as gas certificate compliance and suitability of electrical equipment.
“Licensing of short-term lets for the first time means we have reliable and up-to-date data about the sector in Scotland. We’ll use this data and other information gathered during engagement with licensing authorities and other stakeholders, as part of ongoing monitoring, and also to provide Parliament with an update on implementation in early 2024.”
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