Controversial licensing scheme for short-term lets comes into effect

New legislation that aims to deal with the rapid growth of Airbnb-style properties applies from Sunday.

A controversial new licensing scheme for short-term lets has come into force across Scotland.

The legislation, which aims to deal with the rapid growth of Airbnb-style properties, has been subject to numerous delays and consultations.

A recent survey of 1,200 business owners found 61% of short-term let owners are considering giving up their operation as a result of the policy

But ministers insist the scheme does have public support and are expecting a flurry of applications over the weekend.

Hosts who have not applied for the scheme by October 1 will not be able to continue operating.

The proposals have sparked controversy, particularly in Edinburgh, where supporters of the idea believe the high number of short-term lets in the capital impact on more traditional forms of renting and have led to an increase in anti-social behaviour.

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Supporters of the scheme say it will address significant numbers of short-term lets in cities, however hosts have said it will significantly impact their ability to operate due to the financial costs of the initiative.

Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers (ASSC) chairwoman Adrienne Carmichael has written to First Minister Humza Yousaf, warning licensing regulations may be in breach of privacy and data protection legislation.

Her letter claims the requirement for operators to publicly disclose their personal data on application notices and council licensing registers may be in contravention of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the Scotland Act 1998, as well as General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act.

Fiona Campbell, chief executive of the ASSC, said: “This legislation isn’t just going to destroy individuals’ livelihoods, it’s also going to have a ripple effect on the whole tourism industry.

“Accommodation providers feed into attractions, restaurants, activity providers. The ramifications of this legislation are going to be felt for years and the Scottish Government is going to have to be held accountable for that.

Fiona Campbell.STV News

The Scottish Government’s new licensing scheme requires hosts of these properties to display energy performance ratings on listings, have adequate buildings and public liability insurance, as well as various fire and gas safety precautions.

Housing minister Paul MacLennan said: “I think there’s been an upsurge (in applications), certainly in the last couple of weeks – we had a debate a few weeks ago where we talked about that and reiterated that the deadline wouldn’t be extended, it will be October 1.

Housing minister Paul MacLennan.STV News

“So we have seen an upsurge and I know there are lots of local authorities that are staying open this weekend to pick up that expected surge.”

Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain KC and Scottish Government Permanent Secretary John-Paul Marks have been asked to intervene by MSPs from all political parties in Holyrood – except the Scottish Greens.

The letter is signed by SNP rebel Fergus Ewing, Labour’s Daniel Johnston, Liberal Democrat Willie Rennie and Conservative MSPs Miles Briggs and Murdo Fraser.

In an appeal to Ms Bain, the letter states: “We ask that you pause the rollout and encourage the relevant changes to be made, to provide certainty that business owners require to sustain and grow and continue to make a substantial contribution to Scotland’s economy and long-term prosperity.”

It also said hosts must be provided with “full certainty that the scheme is lawful”.

The Scottish Government previously said it has conducted impact assessments on issues such as data protection.

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