The Scottish government has unveiled a licensing scheme for short-term lets including Airbnb, set to come into force from spring 2021.
Local authorities have been granted the authority to require licences and mandatory safety requirements, alongside other requirements that address the concerns of local residents.
They will also be able to designate control areas where planning permission will be required for the use of whole properties as short-term lets.
The step has been welcomed by UKHospitality. Executive director for Scotland Willie Macleod said: “We are pleased to see the Scottish government look to bring in long-overdue registration and powers to control the massive and uncompetitive growth in largely unregulated short-term letting. The recent boom in short-term lets has brought with it increased choice for customers, but also a plethora of problems for residents and a raft of debatable business practices.
“Too many businesses have had an unfair advantage compared to hotels and other accommodation businesses, escaping business taxes and operating, sometimes, without important safeguards in place. This undermines hospitality businesses who have already been hammered by rising costs in recent years and potentially puts customers at risk.”
Ministers in Scotland also confirmed that a bill allowing local authorities to introduce tourist taxes would be introduced later in the parliament. It said it would ensure short-term lets also “make an appropriate contribution to local communities and support local services” through taxation.
Local government minister Kevin Stewart said: “Short-term lets can offer people a flexible travel option and have contributed positively to Scotland’s tourism industry and local economies across the country.
“However, we know that in certain areas, particularly tourist hot spots, high numbers of short-term lets are causing problems and often make it harder for people to find homes to live in.
“That is why we are empowering local authorities to implement a system that works for their area. By giving councils the power to set conditions around short-term lets licences and put in place planning control areas to tackle hot spots, communities across Scotland will be able to decide what is best for them and their local economy.”