In January 2020, the Scottish Government announced plans to give local authorities new regulatory powers to oversee the short term letting industry in their areas. The control zone regulations, which came into force April 2021, gave councils more control over the number of short-term lets in their areas via the planning system.
Short-term lets draft licensing order
In June this year, the Scottish Government launched a consultation on the details of the short-term lets licensing scheme, to help ensure that the legislation which forms part of the new regulatory regime is as effective and efficient as possible.
We understand the importance of ensuring that local authorities have appropriate regulatory powers to balance the needs and concerns of their communities with wider economic and tourism interests, so it is positive to see the Scottish Government taking steps ensure that effective health and safety requirements are put in place to protect those seeking a short-term let which can ease some of the pressure on the private rented sector and help level the regulatory playing field across the long and short term letting industries.
There is little doubt that it is the intention of the Scottish Government to include holiday lets in its definition of short-term lets for the purposes of the licensing scheme but there is currently too much ambiguity, which will cause confusion and hinder its intended objectives. Clarity on this issue is needed.
The Scottish Government have made it clear that the regulatory framework for short-term lets “should complement, not duplicate” the framework already in place with the private rented sector – including the licensing of HMOs - but the draft order does not explicitly exclude arrangements where landlords are already subject to licensing and registration requirements under the private rented sector framework, to ensure double jeopardy is avoided. This would have a considerable administrative impact on local authorities and place unnecessary burdens on affected landlords. The Scottish Government can rectify this by first including the necessary exemption in the Order and by progressing its plans to expand the definition of a HMO to ensure that where accommodation is being provided to “contract and transient workers”, they are afforded the same health and safety rights as those who live in a shared rented property as their only or main residence.