Further calls for lets legislation

Trade and council groups in favour of a licensing system

Scottish Parliament
The Scottish Government said short-term lets are a “subject of much controversy”.

ORGANISATIONS including UK Hospitality and City of Edinburgh Council have backed calls for a dedicated licensing regime for short-term lets as a Scottish Government consultation on the subject closes.

In its response to the consultation on the regulation of short-term lets, which began in April and ended late last month, trade group UK Hospitality backed calls for the creation of a separate licensing regime.

The group’s executive director for Scotland, Willie Macleod, said short-term letting platforms such as AirBnB “operate at an unfair advantage, arguably sometimes at the margins of the law, and the time has come for mandatory registration”.

“The rise in popularity of home-sharing platforms has revolutionised tourism and hospitality and has provided a huge amount of choice for consumers,” said Macleod.

“That is to be welcomed, but those who wish to let rooms should do so in compliance with the law.

“Registration and licensing will benefit consumers by adding an additional layer of visibility and will ensure that other businesses are not unfairly disadvantaged.”

The Scottish Government consultation acknowledged that short-term lets have “become the subject of much controversy in some parts of Scotland and evoke strong opinions”.

Issues raised in the consultation document included the impact on housing, with investors purchasing residential properties for the express purpose of letting them out, a loss of tax revenues and a lack of appropriate safety standards in some properties.

The debate has become particularly heated in Edinburgh, which has a high number of properties that are let out short-term.

Responding to the Scottish Government consultation councillor Kate Campbell, housing and economy convenor for City of Edinburgh Council, said a licensing regime “would be a game-changer”.

“We are absolutely clear that we need a licensing regime because it would mean that we can set local policies that address the particular challenges we face in Edinburgh, and react quickly when rules are breached,” said Campbell.