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Fife Council Consultation on Short-Term Let Licensing Additional Conditions

Fife Council seeks the views of people and organisations to help shape the Short-term Let Licensing Scheme. Our online consultation survey is now available at the link below. The purpose of the survey is to consider which discretionary elements of the legislation should be included to reflect the Fife context.

The discretionary elements include issues such as:

  • Anti-social behaviour
  • Privacy and security
  • Overcrowding
  • Noise and nuisance
  • Littering
  • Repairs and maintenance
  • Damage
  • Unlawful activity

The survey will take 10-15 minutes to complete and individual responses will be treated confidentially.

The consultation will close on Sunday 12th June.

Click on this link to be taken to the survey

This ASSC has responded to the survey, and you can access our submission here: ASSC Submission to Fife Council Short Term Let Consultation

What are the positives of short-term letting?

Self-catering provides a £867m per annum boost to the Scottish economy, benefiting local communities the length and breadth of Scotland, supporting 23,979 FTE jobs. Given the importance of this sector to the Scottish tourism industry, which has experienced such a challenging time due to the impact of Covid-19, an appropriate regulatory balance is a necessity, as is a supportive environment to help businesses recover and flourish. The recovery of Scottish tourism will benefit small businesses, while responsible and sustainable tourism can help communities to recover too.

For Fife alone, Frontline Consultants have estimated that the traditional self-catering industry provides a £26m annual boost to the local economy [1] and the sector important source of accommodation for major events within the local council area, but also for any overspill from those held in Edinburgh. Tourism in Fife contributes approximately £566m annually to the Scottish economy, providing 9% of all employment in Fife [2], and the ASSC are proud of our members contribution towards this.

Short-term letting also adds to the diverse range of accommodation available within Fife and responds to consumer trends towards more authentic local experiencesThe fact that consumer trends are shifting towards short-term lets and self-catering is illustrated by the fact that hotel chains are moving into this market and why they list rooms on popular booking platforms like Airbnb and Booking.com.

Traditional short-term letting activity, such as self-catering, is a small business like any other, with dedicated full-time professionals striving to provide positive experiences for guests and visitors. Given the competition to maintain standards, holiday let owners often spend money more frequently on additional property maintenance than they would on their own property. Their guests spend money in local food shops, cafes, gift shops, galleries, restaurants, tourist attractions etc – many of which would simply be unviable without visitor spending.

Therefore, the impact of STL regulations with the aim of reducing the number of properties, will not be limited to self-catering and short-term letting overall as there will be a significant negative impact to businesses in the wider supply chain. This emphasises the value that short-term letting provides to the wider economy (especially within the context of Covid recovery) from the operators themselves, with negative knock-on effects on hospitality, local activity providers and local attractions. There will also be a negative impact on laundry providers and cleaning services and guests, not to mention property managers, and the onward tech supply chain.

Finally, for Scotland, and indeed Fife, to remain competitive as a leading tourism destination, it needs to be responsive and adaptive to consumer trends, both in respect of the range of accommodation available, as well as for more environmentally conscious options. Holidaying within Scotland, rather than jumping on a plane to a resort overseas, should not only be encouraged during a global pandemic – but as an environmental, social and economic positive going forward. Self-catering properties can, therefore, be viewed as a solution to sustainability, not the problem.

Indeed, as one of our members – Louise Dickins (owner of Dickins Edinburgh Ltd) – so ably put it: “Quite often in our rural locations [self-catering units) are the main choice of where to stay. And they’re an opportunity to stay in the heart of nature. They’re affordable to families too. Scotland is one of the most beautiful countries in the world and so we’re so lucky across the UK to be able to holiday here and not damage the planet in the process.” [3]

We believe that traditional self-catering provides both economic and environmental benefits for communities and the country as a whole. However, in order to ensure benefits are realised, self-catering needs to be actively encouraged as a sustainable option for travellers and an enabling regulatory landscape, not a draconian one, is critical.

[1] Frontline Consultants, Economic impact of Self-Catering Sector to the Scottish Economy (2021). Url: https://www.assc.co.uk/policy/economic-impact-study-self-catering-worth-867m-to-scottish-economy/

[2] Fife Tourism Partnership, Fife Tourism and Events Strategy 2019-2029. Url: https://www.fifetourismpartnership.org/site/assets/files/6214/fife_tourism_events_strategy_2019_29_digital-1.pdf

[3] ASSC, ‘Short-Term Lets Vital for Sustainable Tourism in Scotland’, Jan 2021. Url: https://www.assc.co.uk/short-term-lets-vital-for-sustainable-tourism-in-scotland/

What are the negatives of short-term letting?

Tourism is a mainstay of the Scottish economy; and self-catering is hugely important to Scottish tourism in terms of jobs, revenue, and world-class experiences offered to guests. To be such an essential part of Scotland’s tourism mix is even more remarkable for our sector when most self-caterers operate small or micro businesses. Our professional self-caterers are diligent and considerate business owners who are too often unfairly maligned. They do not, for example, ‘hollow out communities’, as some have claimed, but rather are part of local communities across Scotland and have been for many, many years.

The ‘negatives’ concerning short-term letting are often based on hearsay. Sadly, in recent years, due to the rise of the collaborative economy and online accommodation platforms, negative attitudes have increased with a hostile media and political climate which has been detrimental to hard-working professional self-catering operators who have operated in Fife for decades with minimal complaints or issues. This climate has, in turn, impacted upon community cohesion and led to bad policy decisions where short-term lets are used as a convenient scapegoat for long-term failures to address housing challenges within Fife and the rest of Scotland. We would respectfully encourage an evidence-based approach to short-term letting – as well as a holistic approach to tackling housing challenges – and not one that relies on perception or anecdote.

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