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Press Release: Europe adopts short-term let registration – and Scotland should align

The European Union Council and Parliament has agreed to introduce a registration system for short-term lets, a move which has been welcomed by the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers (ASSC).

The new plan will allow for a simpler, harmonised system of data collection and aims to bring clarity and transparency to an important part of the tourism accommodation sector.

This will be directly applied in all 27 EU Member States and ensure that transparent data is needed to create justified, proportionate and non-discriminatory short-term let legislation across the EU. This can only be achieved through a simple, online registration process – the opposite from an authorisation (licensing) scheme.

In Scotland, there has been no reliable source of data on the number of short-term let properties to evidence the need for licensing, while the Scottish Government’s onerous licensing regulations have been beset by numerous problems – be it the huge expense for legitimate small and micro businesses, operators leaving the market, or properties being left empty for family and friends as second homes. There is no evidence of any benefit to the scheme, far less in terms of ameliorating the housing crisis.

Scottish Government claims that there were 32,000 short-term lets across Scotland, as well as the assertion from City of Edinburgh Council that there were 12,000 in the capital, have been shown to be wholly inaccurate according to licensing applications across local authorities. Obtaining robust data prior to legislating, rather than retrospectively evidencing a need, is an example of an evidence-led approach to policymaking which the ASSC has continually argued for during regulatory discussions, yet industry was continually ignored.

The Scottish Government intends to hold an implementation review update of their widely criticised licensing regulations in the New Year. Regrettably, the ASSC has been told that this will not include any assessment of impact on the traditional accommodation, nor wider tourism sector, nor will amendments be made to the legislation, despite evidence of the dire need for changes.

The Scottish Government has set out their ambitions for an independent Scotland to join the EU. However, in terms of their short-term let legislation, they are an outlier amongst other European states and will need to align more closely with the proportionate and non-discriminatory STR legislation in the EU. Ireland’s proposals for a scheme akin to licensing were refused by the European Commission and they will now have to align with the new regulations, which come into force in December.

Fiona Campbell, CEO of the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers, commented:

“The EU’s draft regulation on data collection is an example of sensible policymaking, something which has been conspicuously absent from the unfolding mess in Scotland.

“According to the EU, Registration – a notification scheme – is the tool to collect data. Licensing – an authorisation scheme – is a way to deliver Market access requirements. Sadly, in Scotland, policymakers have put the cart before the horse. We should have obtained the necessary data first, then legislated.

“The Scottish Government has always sought to align closely with European legislation and has aspirations for an independent Scotland to join the EU. However, Scotland is an outlier with its clunky licensing scheme and ought to instead align with the proportionate and non-discriminatory legislation from Europe before it is too late. If we don’t, we will continue to be seen as a laughing stock on this matter.”


Notes to Editors:

Further information on the European proposal can be accessed here: https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2023/11/16/tourism-council-and-parliament-reach-a-deal-to-bring-more-transparency-to-short-term-accommodation-rentals/

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