Scotland's new short term lets rules 'a setback' for rural firms

The new rules mean local authorities will be able to decide whether a short-term let is suitable or not
The new rules mean local authorities will be able to decide whether a short-term let is suitable or not

New legislation regarding short term lets in Scotland has been criticised as a 'setback' for rural and diversified farming businesses in the country.

The new legislation laid before the Scottish parliament is being introduced to tackle a lack of housing supply in popular tourist areas.

It introduces a requirement for holiday properties to apply for a license through their local authority to ensure they meet a required standard.

All short term lets are subject to the new rules, whether holiday cottages, B&B’s, glamping sites, as well as the increasingly popular ‘pods’ and shepherd’s huts.

The self-catering sector is worth £867 million each year to the Scottish economy, according to the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers.

But rural businesses have called the rule changes an 'unnecessary and unwelcome addition', especially as the hospitality sector's revenues have dropped due to the pandemic.

Annie Lane, a rural business adviser with land and property agency Galbraith, said an unintended consequence was the excessive burden on small rural businesses.

“Scotland’s tourism sector is one of our great strengths, but if every small glamping site or holiday cottage has to apply for a licence there will be a significant impact.

"At a time when the longer-term options for rural businesses are in a state of flux and agricultural costs are rising, this over-regulation of holiday lets seems excessive.”

Local authorities have until 1 October 2022 to establish a short term lets licensing scheme and existing businesses will have until April 2023 to apply for a license.

Licenses will be granted for an initial period of up to three years, and fees will most likely be applied but the rate at which they will be charged is understood to be at the discretion of local authorities.

Properties will be required to meet the repairing standard and the landlord or operator must provide a copy of the licence and additional information for all guests.

Ms Lane said: “The legislation has been introduced to address concerns raised by some communities about the impact of short term letting on the supply of housing in certain areas.

"By allowing councils to manage the number of short-term lets in areas of high concentration it is hoped that the availability of housing for local people can be improved.

"However it seems that some of the wider issues in the supply of housing have not been addressed and this legislation will simply damage the rural tourism sector unnecessarily.”