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Last week, the Scottish Government set out their revised short-term let licensing regulations. We were incredibly disappointed that they did not go further in responding to industry concerns, particularly as we put forward a proportionate and fair compromise, not to mention the fact that Scottish tourism is still facing huge uncertainty and remains in recovery mode – and as recent news shows, Covid continues to pose significant challenges.

Now that the licensing regulations have been laid in the Scottish Parliament, they will shortly be considered at the Local Government, Housing and Planning Committee and then voted upon by its members. It is likely that the short-term let regulations will be supported by the Committee but they will then head to a vote of all MSPs in parliament.

Members of the ASSC, alongside other small tourism accommodation providers like B&Bs, were instrumental in getting the Scottish Government to withdraw their licensing plans before a vote of all MSPs earlier this year due to the political uproar that ensued. We would like to thank each and every member who helped in that effort.

Make no mistake, the ASSC will continue to leave no stone unturned and lobby tirelessly on your behalf but we are now making an additional ask of you.

This will be the final chance to try and stop these damaging and ill-considered regulations. After years of regulatory discussion, it is unfortunate our views have been largely ignored. The government have also manifestly failed to listen to industry or legal experts, or the local councils that will be charged to deliver the legislation. But we need to make one last plea to protect small businesses in Scotland.

Here is what you can do to help.

  • Please contact both your constituency and regional MSPs to highlight the threat to your livelihood from this onerous licensing scheme, note the positive impact your accommodation has had on your local area, and that the government simply hasn’t listened to small businesses or properly considered the ASSC’s exemption proposal for registered businesses.
  • Self-catering benefits the Scottish economy to the tune of £867m per annum and it is disappointing to say the least that policymakers are discriminating against our sector when we have benefitted local economies for decades.
  • As further background, some of the ASSC’s specific outstanding concerns with the legislation are:
  1. Clarity on Fees: there should be a cap on fees, not a scaled approach or just further guidance passed to councils. This would mirror the Scottish Landlord Register.
  2. Renewals: the process should operate on the assumption that a licensing application is renewed through self-certification, again like the Scottish Landlord Register.
  3. Neighbourhood Objections: all neighbourhood concerns over short-term lets should go through the existing system through better enforcement of anti-social behaviour legislation, as well as the use of noise monitoring devices.
  4. Inspections: council officers should not be allowed to turn up unannounced at a tourism accommodation business, especially when guests are in, but seek an appointment with the owner to provide access.
  5. Additional conditions: there should be an element of control over the additional conditions that local authorities could add into their licensing regime. Local councils should not be able to stipulate that they do not want short-term lets operating in tenemental properties, for instance, as this would be the return of overprovision powers via the back door.
  • Short-term let licensing will not only have an adverse impact on our economy, they will also hit local councils at a time when they can least afford it – and the Scottish Government will not provide any additional funds for start-up costs.
  • In your correspondence, you should raise this vital local issue to councillors who may be unaware that the legislation will soon be voted on by MSPs. One thing they will be aware of is the local government elections in May 2022.
  • You need to convey that licensing will not only adversely affect tourism and local economies but will hit already stretched council budgets as this briefing makes clear: https://www.assc.co.uk/the-impact-of-short-term-let-licensing-on-local-authorities/. Moreover, you may find some of the comments from local councils highlighted here to be useful in your email: https://www.assc.co.uk/2021-short-term-let-consultation-responses/
  • You can find your councillors on your local council website.

The Scottish Government’s licensing legislation was withdrawn in February 2021, because it was not fit for purpose; but in December 2021, it remains unfit for purpose. Please implore your local representatives to act to support Scottish tourism and protect livelihoods by rejecting these anti small business regulations.

Thank you,

Fiona Campbell, CEO


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