With just 70 working days to go until the deadline for short-term let licensing comes into force, less than 30% of operators have applied.
There are a number of outstanding areas which need to be addressed – which have been highlighted to Ministers, and tinkering around with guidance will not be sufficient.
- Outstanding issues include: fees beyond those estimated in the BRIA, with some councils setting these to extortionate levels; barriers to investment need to be tackled through enabling councils to provide temporary exemptions; some councils are showing overreach on additional conditions (i.e. floor coverings, boat/bike hire) which may be ultra vires to licensing; there’s inequality between different types of STL which undermines the principle of licensing; and inconsistencies in licensing policies remain potentially unlawful such as the Provision of Services Regulations 2009).
- On planning specifically, planning permission is only required post designation of a Planning Control Area, or where a material change of use has occurred. The Scottish Government must provide transparent, justifiable planning guidance as a matter of urgency until such a time as they remove Schedule 3.13 from the Licensing Order.
- If no action is taken, the sector fears that yet more operators will leave the sector, damaging a key component of the tourism industry which contributes £876m per annum to the Scottish economy. This has been evidenced by our latest survey results.
- Judicial Review: while the Scottish Government state that Lord Braid’s legal opinion is specific to City of Edinburgh Council, the industry believes that there are wider implications for other local schemes in Scotland and further legal action should be expected.
- Alternative Regulatory Framework: Given the timeline and outcome of the Judicial Review, a rethink is required which would enable the Scottish Government to meet its initial policy objectives but in a manner which does not cost jobs and harm Scotland’s tourist economy. The Scottish Government have two pathways towards a more equitable, fair and effective STL regulatory landscape. It could:
- 1) Implement the ASSC’s proposal to pivot licensing to align with the Antisocial Behaviour etc (Scotland) Act 2004., which would satisfy the aims of the regulations, covering the safety of the activity; or
- 2) Consider the various amendments to the 1982 Act and re-draft the guidance associated with the Licensing Order 2022, in collaboration with industry and local government stakeholders.