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The Cost of Short-Term Let Licensing and Planning

The ASSC continues to collate evidence of the impact of the challenges facing our sector. The data shown in the most recent survey, undertaken in March 2023 will inform ongoing discussions with the Scottish Government and other stakeholders.

The results highlight the variation in costs in relation to obtaining a short term let licence, planning permission, insurance and risk assessments for businesses across Scotland.

Headlines show that 93% of businesses remain concerned about short-term let licensing.

Critically, 39% of respondents said that they will be leaving the sector with a further 27% not sure yet.

50% of respondents are experiencing new mental health problems as a result of the ongoing business challenges being faced.

294 Businesses responded to this survey.


  • 70% of operators are rural or island based
  • 90% provide accommodation for over 140 nights, with 61% of respondents stating that it is their primary source of income (1/3 or more).
  • 93% of businesses remain concerned about short-term let licensing.
  • 79% have not yet applied for a licence, with 57% expecting policies to change and 13% saying that they cannot afford to apply.
  • 69% say they will apply in August or September or they are not sure.
  • The average licence fee across 37 respondents is £514, which is outwith the Scottish Government’s estimated fees from £216-£434 for a three-year licence.
  • Cost of compliance:
    • The average cost of getting an EPC is £166 across 121 businesses
    • The average cost of an EICR across 152 businesses is £390
    • The average cost for getting PAT certification across 152 businesses is £129
    • The average cost of getting a fire risk assessment done is £217 across 33 businesses
    • The average cost of a legionella risk assessment is £ 122 across 49 businesses
    • The average cost incurred for layout plans is £ 402 across 47 businesses
    • The average cost incurred for increasing insurance to £5m for STL licensing is £423 across 28 businesses
    • The average cost associated with planning is £1044 across 37 businesses
    • The average cost for those that require carpeting for their licence is £836 across 7 businesses
  • 39% are considering leaving the sector, and a further 27% are not sure yet. 76% cite Short-Term Let legislation, while 72% say it is due to the cost associated with STL legislation
  • 24% say that it is due to a combination of reasons including the increase in cost of doing business (57%), lack of bookings (17%) and retiring (3%)
  • If respondents were to sell their properties, 96% say if they sell it would not be available for affordable housing.

We have been sent the following messages from members in recent weeks:

  • I am a teensy bit heartened to see our plight is at last making the news. It doesn’t help us here in Orkney at all, and **** and I are set to close my dear, sweet Bothy on October 1st. My heart is broken, and from where I am standing, the financial future seems very grim and precarious. Although we still hold out a glimmer of hope that Orkney Islands Council might relent and finally see sense,  I’m not holding my breath. 
  • Regretfully, owing to government interference in the operating of my business affairs I have decided to discontinue with my holiday cottage letting enterprise. I shall therefore not be renewing my current membership to ASSC as from the end of September this year **** and **** will no longer be available for holiday letting.
  • Would I be able to get help with what to do if we sell the property but have bookings after September? We are looking at selling up and changing to a different business model as the whole STL is too restrictive.  Disappointing but we feel it is definitely pushing us in that direction.  We have been running as a self-catering business for around 20 years.
  • As for selling up, a combination of factors really but mainly down to Short Term Licensing.  The secondary let I bought is in a large town and despite me being a top host (after 4 years I still have a 4.99 rating on Airbnb) I just can’t seem to charge enough/get enough bookings to cover all my costs and make much of a profit.  The fact I am going to have to get rid of my beautiful glass doors and fit all sorts of ugly fire safety equipment for a 2-bed terraced cottage pushed me over the edge as it will be very expensive.  We are being blamed for causing a housing crisis whereas it’s totally obvious to all and sundry that other factors are to blame – the very low interest rate on savings for many years, the fact Local Authorities are just not building enough new housing/they are leaving housing empty, and the rest…
  • Hello, just thought that you and your members would be interested (shocked) to learn that today (18th April) , Highland Council stated that there is a three month waiting list for the fire service to visit properties in order to assess the premises for Short Term Let Licence purposes. I am a B&B owner who had to sell a great business for family reasons and we are left in further limbo by this news. I have accepted an offer on my property but my purchaser will not conclude missives until the licence has been granted to them. The offer was accepted in December and we’ll be lucky to conclude by August at this rate. This legislation has cost my family dearly, both financially and personally. We won’t be alone and I just don’t understand how this legislation could have been implemented without the necessary resources to process it. Anyway, just wanted to give others contemplating or already going through this process a heads up on the latest timescales.
  • I won’t be renewing my membership this year as have made the decision to retire and end myself catering business. Seems as good a time as any for me personally and with all that is going on just now affecting the industry. I would like to say a big thank you to you all and particularly Fiona Campbell of course for your stoic guidance throughout the pandemic and then  without a pause straight into this  long-suffering registration process… The ASSC has been of invaluable help to me over the years. 

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