Short-term let licensing schemes approved in Scotland

Short-term let licensing schemes

Your FAQs answered

The Scottish Parliament has approved legislation requiring local authorities to set up short-term let licensing schemes by October 2022, with all existing short-term let property owners required to apply for a licence by April 2023.

The good news for most of our short-term properties is that the scheme’s mandatory safety conditions are already in place. We’re working with all our short-term let landlords to ensure that all requirements will be in place by October.

Full details of the current draft guidance for short term let landlords is online but here we’ve answered all your FAQs:

When will short-term let licensing schemes come into force?

Local authorities now have until 01 October 2022 to establish their short-term lets licensing schemes; existing hosts, landlords and operators need to apply by 01 April 2023. All short-term lets must be licensed by 01 July 2024.

What is classed as a short-term let?

Short-term lets are residential lets where the property is not let to guests or tenants as their principal home. The legislation defines three types of short-term lets:

  • Home sharing – using all or part of your home for short-term lets whilst you are there
  • Home letting – using all or part of your own home for short-term lets whilst you are absent, for example whilst you are on holiday
  • Secondary letting – letting a property where you do not normally live, for example a second home or a buy to let investment property

Licences will specify which type of short-term let is permitted at a property.

The length of a guest or tenant’s stay is not considered in classing a short-term let, which could be for one night or for several months.

Will one licence cover multiple properties?

In short, no.  A separate licence is required for each property unless there is more than one separately bookable property on the site.

Can At Home In Edinburgh apply on behalf of a landlord?

Yes – landlords can ask another person to make the application on their behalf. This might be a solicitor, letting agency or property management company.

If the day-to-day management of a property is by a property management company or letting agency, then their details must be included on the licence application form.

What does a short-term let licence application include?

Fit and proper person test

Everybody named on the application form will be subject to the fit and proper person test. Licensing authorities are likely to consider factors including previous criminal convictions; previous disqualification from being a private landlord; having had an HMO licence revoked; having had a previous application for a short term lets licence refused; and providing false and misleading information on an application.

Mandatory Conditions

You can find a full list of the mandatory conditions online, but these include:

  • Fire safety
  • Gas safety
  • Electrical safety
  • Water safety
  • Safety and repair standards
  • Maximum occupancy
  • Valid insurance

Licensing authorities can also set additional conditions for your property or for all properties in that licensing area if there are specific local concerns or circumstances.

A licensing authority will check that you and your premises are compliant with the mandatory conditions. The authority may carry out a visit to the property, request relevant documentation and ask you to declare that you have met the conditions.

How long will a short-term let licence last?

Each licensing authority will determine how long a licence is valid for, and how often a licence will need to be renewed. However, the maximum period for a licence issued on your first application will be three years. Licence renewals may be granted for a longer period but will take into consideration any issues or complaints that have arisen.

How much will a short-term let licence cost?

Each local authority will set its own licensing fees to cover the scheme’s costs. The Scottish Government suggests that average indicative fees are estimated to be in the range between £214 and £436 to cover a three-year licence.

Why are the short-term let licensing schemes being introduced?

The legislation was driven by concern in local communities and within housing groups at the rapid increase in short-term lets (particularly Airbnb) and their impact in certain areas, including areas of Edinburgh. Following consultations beginning in 2019, the government committed to giving local authorities control over short-term lets.

Short-term let licences are intended to allow an area-appropriate balance of local community needs, wider tourism and economic benefits and a quality visitor experience, ensuring that guests and neighbours are safe.

What are short-term let control areas?

In April 2021, the government introduced laws which allow councils in Scotland to designate all or part of their area as a Short-Term Let Control Area. In August 2021, the Edinburgh Planning Committee approved a proposal to ask people for their views on whether we should have a Short-Term Let Control Area for the entire Council area.

If a short-term let control area is approved by the Council and by Scottish Government, a property owner who is letting out a residential property (which is not their principal home) on a short-term let basis would have to apply for ‘change of use’ approval through the planning application process.

This does not mean a blanket ban on short-term lets.  It will mean that the change of use from residential properties to short-term lets will be controlled under planning regulations.

What do landlords need to do now?

If you offer short-term lets via home sharing, home letting or secondary letting then you should read the full guidance and contact your local authority for further information about applying for a short-term let licence.

If you are a short-term let landlord with At Home In Edinburgh then we will contact you once the licensing process has been defined by Edinburgh Council – but please let us know if you have any further questions.

Can At Home In Edinburgh help?

Our team of friendly experts are here and happy to help, whether you have a quick question, or you’d like to chat about how our property management services could help you.

Give us a call on 0131 229 4001, email via our contact form or pop in and see us at 39 Warrender Park Road, Edinburgh, EH9 1EU.