Long-term solution for short-term lets

ScotGov’s consultation on regulating AirBnB-style lets welcomed

Edinburgh city
Edinburgh has been particularly impacted by the likes of AirBnB

HOTELIERS, trade groups, politicians and councils have  welcomed a move by the Scottish Government towards regulating the short-term letting sector.

It has launched a consultation seeking views on the ways regulation would best work in practice, including how to deal with ‘commercial’ hosts (those with multiple properties let on a short-term basis) and whether or not short-term lets should be liable to pay non-domestic rates.

Peer-to-peer accommodation platforms are said to have experienced significant growth year-on-year in Scotland, especially in Edinburgh. An AirBnB UK Insight Report revealed that more than 1.6 million guests stayed in properties let via AirBnB in Scotland in 2018. And there were 31,000 active listings on the site for Scotland.

Nicola Taylor, chief executive of Chardon Hotels, said that those letting out multiple properties via the likes of AirBnB must face the same rules and rates as the rest of the accommodation sector.

“It started off as a wee opportunity and it’s become a big business for a lot of people,” she said. “And if that’s the case, they should be paying the same tax as hoteliers.”

An Edinburgh hotelier, who asked not to be named, told SLTN: “We have so many  regulations and have to pay for so much to get done – fire regs, commercial insurance, taxes, VAT – and yet other people seem to be allowed to suddenly let a room… and just take the money and I’m quite sure it’s not recorded.

“I don’t think they should be allowed to operate unless they comply with the conditions and be licensed.”

Paul Waterson of the SLTA said “we definitely need regulation”, adding: “What we’re trying to stop is people exploiting what is really a loophole now because technology has outpaced the law.”

SNP Edinburgh councillor Kate Campbell is urging people to “take part and help shape the policy and legislation that comes out of the consultation”.

Scottish Green MSP Andy Wightman, whose accepted change to the Planning (Scotland) Bill will require those letting out entire properties on a short-term basis to apply for planning permission, said: “I welcome this belated consultation, but regret that it has taken so long.”

The consultation is open until July 19.