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Sykes Holiday Cottages Writes in Support of ASSC Letter to Ministers

The Chief Executive of Sykes Holiday Cottages has written to the Minister for Housing, Paul McLennan in support of our letter sent in light of the Judicial Review.

“Dear Minister,

I wish to add my support to the attached letter from ASSC.

The Edinburgh judicial review highlights the problem with 32 local authorities introducing their own schemes because when various aspects of any one of them is shown to be unlawful, the other 31 all need to review their policies to ensure they’re not similarly unlawful.

It is now 3 months until the deadline for the operators of existing short term lets to apply. We’ve concerns, for example:

  • What are such operators in Edinburgh supposed to do at the moment given the local policy is unlawful?
  • What about visitors wanting to book a short term let in Edinburgh?
  • What should owners of existing short term lets in other local authority areas with a policy which has a similar provision to the unlawful provisions in the Edinburgh policy do? Presumably they shouldn’t apply until the local authority has reviewed its policy?
  • Are the other 31 local authorities reviewing their policies now and going to announce whether they will be amending? Or are operators of short term lets going to have to pore over all 31 to point out these unlawful aspects?
  • If any local authority refuses to amend their policy despite having analogous provision to any found unlawful in Edinburgh, will those operators have to club together and, like the four in Edinburgh, challenge them in the courts while trying to run their businesses and host visitors to Scotland during the busiest part of the year? Should that be the way forward for this scheme? How long will that take?

All of this creates uncertainty for local authorities, operators and visitors and causes damage to the tourism sector as a whole. Some operators of short term let businesses are blocking out their calendars from 1 October 2023 onwards because they realise that at any point from then they could be refused a licence and no longer be able to operate.

The numbers suggest that most operators haven’t yet applied because of the uncertainty. With the judicial review judgement that uncertainty has multiplied and crystalised into unlawfulness. Legislation needs to be as certain as possible and legislating for 32 different schemes has led to anything but certainty.

To give an idea of some of the problems with individual schemes across Scotland, some comments from those who list their short term let with Sykes:

“Application forms were unfit for purpose, several mistakes drawn to attention, our application went in on first day scheme opened and still no determination”

“Complex, bureaucratic, time-consuming. Licensing and Valuation departments don’t talk to each other – duplication of information required. Hammer to crack a nut.”

“It would be useful if there was more help with the site plan and floor plan and what is specifically required regarding this. I did phone the Council and asked what the site plan was and was told to google it! You also have to submit the application in one go, it cannot be saved which is very frustrating. The whole form is badly thought out and OTT.”

“I have already been given my licence. The application was significantly difficult and – eg – my plans of the house were returned with a request for more detail (so they had been carefully examined). On the other hand, there were two separate occasions when I was asked for something I had already submitted (and could quote chapter and verse) – it seemed there were different departments dealing with different aspects of the application and their internal communication wasn’t of the best.”

We hope to hear further in relation to the above and the attached letter from ASSC.

Best wishes

Graham Donoghue

Chief Executive 

Sykes Holiday Cottages”

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