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URGENT CALL TO ACTION: Short-Term Let Licensing for Self-Caterers, B&Bs, Guest Houses, Glamping and other Short-Term Let Accommodation


As you know, in February, the Scottish Government’s proposed self-catering licensing regulations were pulled at the last minute before the election in response to the high level of individual objections and by the reasoned concerns of the ASSC and other major tourism stakeholders.

The Scottish Government then promised to engage with, and listen to, our industry through the Short-Term Let Working Group involving the ASSC and other stakeholders, with a view to introducing amended regulations this summer. Through the Working Group, the ASSC, with unprecedented industry support, submitted detailed and practical proposals for meeting the Scottish Government’s policy objectives on short-term let regulation through setting up a robust mandatory registration scheme.

Sadly, this engagement only paid lip service to our industry. The Scottish Government rejected the ASSC’s proposals out of hand without any proper explanation. Now, in a new consultation – incidentally, their third in recent years – they have simply restated their original licensing proposals with a few amendments that, if anything, make the proposals worse for self-catering operators and the other tourism businesses that have now been caught in the legislation – this includes B&B’s, small guest houses and even yurts!

Scot Gov: Reference to excluded accommodation
Scot Gov: Reference to excluded accommodation Part 1. Guidance for Hosts and Operators

Join our Webinar – TUESDAY 20th July: 11am  

Scottish Government Licensing Proposals for Self-Caterers, B&Bs, Guest Houses, Glamping and other Short-Term Lets: What You Need to Know


When the ASSC surveyed over 1000 members, nearly half of owners said they would close their businesses if licensing was introduced. Moreover, around two-thirds of those who would close said they would keep the property as a second home and for friends, no doubt with significantly reduced nightly occupancy rate relative to use for self-catering.

There are many reasons why owners will close –

  • Uncertainty over licence being granted: councils will have very subjective grounds to refuse licence – and could grant licence then refuse renewal. Appeals against refusal would involve substantial legal costs and more uncertainty.
  • Owners will have to make advance bookings made during the licence application period conditional on licence being granted (which will put off guests) or risk being sued if they don’t and licence not granted – and this will be repeated every 3 years when licence has to be renewed.
  • Increased bureaucracy and hassle: disproportionately affecting small business owners who are the backbone of Scotland’s tourist economy.
  • Investment uncertainty: owners will be reluctant to invest in major repairs, replacements and improvements as they won’t know whether licence will be granted or renewed.
  • Unknown and open-ended licensing costs, estimated as £1k plus – councils have to recover their costs from the scheme and operators will face additionally paying Council for inspections.

Introducing licensing will result in significant damage to Scotland’s tourist industry, including the businesses that provide services to property owners, and, in turn, to local economies. The irony is that the Scottish Government are pushing ahead with this when we are trying to recover from the economic damage of Covid-19 and for the longer term, and when staycations are being encouraged for sustainability/environmental reasons.

This will have unintended consequences reaching far into the supply chain, to cleaners and maintenance providers, restaurants and bars, activity providers and visitor attractions, thereby negatively impacting local communities.

But none of this is inevitable. The Scottish Government have in the past changed policies if there is enough public pressure. They temporarily withdrew the original Licensing Order because of a high level of negative responses. There is a chance they will do so again – but only if there is an unprecedented level of concern.

That is why, if you agree with the ASSC’s analysis and are concerned for the future of your business, we would kindly ask you to do 3 things:

  1. Respond to the Scottish Government’s consultation by Friday 13 August 2021 using the following link: https://consult.gov.scot/housing-and-social-justice/short-term-lets-draft-licensing-order-and-bria/consultation/subpage.2016-07-07.1474135251/
  2. Contact your regional and constituency MSPs in the first instance and then local authority councillors highlighting the problems with the regulations (copy and paste your consultation response) and explaining the likely impact on your business and local supply chain etc. You can find your MSPs using the postcode checker tool on the Scottish Parliament website:https://beta.parliament.scot/msps/current-and-previous-msps
  3. In the correspondence above, please copy us in: communications@assc.co.uk

If following the consultation, the Scottish Government decide to proceed with their regulations, an updated Licensing Order will be introduced in the Scottish Parliament and considered by a parliamentary committee before the Order is voted on by all MSPs. You will be invited to raise your concerns directly with the Committee – we will advise on the procedure and deadline when appropriate.

We have prepared a briefing paper providing a full background and explaining the issues in detail and concerns referred to above. We hope you find this useful.

Members:  Link to the Briefing Paper HERE   *PLEASE NOTE* Members will need to be logged into their account for access.

Non-Members: If you’d like a copy of the briefing or to be updated, subscribe here: http://eepurl.com/hhCXDv

Scottish Government Licensing Proposals for Self-Caterers, B&Bs, Guest Houses, Glamping and other Short-Term Lets: What You Need to Know Webinar

519 people registered to join a webinar on 20th July 2021.

Watch the recorded webinar.


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