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Scottish legislation for short-term lets came into effect in 2022. It introduced a licensing scheme and a new power which allows local authorities to introduce planning control areas.

Anyone operating a short-term let before 1 October 2022 must apply for a licence by 1 April 2023.

Those who want to set up and operate a short-term let for the first time need a licence before they take any bookings or accept any guests. This applies to new businesses that were not operating before 1 October 2022.

In December 2022, the Scottish Government said it was proposing an extension for existing hosts only. This has not yet been approved by parliament.

Page last updated: 7 February 2023

In this section:

  1. What is the short-term let legislation?
  2. Who is it for?
  3. What do you need to do?
  4. Next steps to get ready to apply for a licence
  5. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
  6. Industry Advisory Group (IAG)
  7. IAG participants

 

Learn what the legal requirements for letting a holiday property are, and how the new licensing laws in Scotland will work.

Please note that this webpage includes a summary of the law relating to short-term lets. You should take further advice on how the law applies to specific circumstances.

Have you read through this guidance and feel you still need further help or information?

1. What is the short-term let legislation?

The Scottish Government has introduced a licensing regime for short-term lets in Scotland. The scheme requires all local councils to establish a short-term let licensing scheme.

  • Existing host / operator

    Are you an existing host or operator, operating before 1 October 2022? Then you'll have to apply for a licence. Existing hosts have until 1 April 2023 to apply for a licence. You can continue to receive guests and accept bookings while your application is being determined.

    The Scottish Government has said it plans to extend this deadline until 1 October 2023, but this has not been approved yet.

  • New host / operator

    New operators of short-term let accommodation must have a licence before taking any bookings. This also applies to existing operators who establish new short-term let accommodations. The proposed extension for existing hosts does not apply to new hosts.

  • All hosts / operators

    Once in effect, it will be illegal to operate a short-term let without a licence in all circumstances. Until in effect, it will be illegal in some circumstances, including:

    • Where a new host or operator starts operating while their application is being determined. Or where they continue to operate where a licence application has been refused
    • Where an existing host or operator continues to operate where a licence application has been refused

Planning Control Areas (PCAs)

Local councils may also choose to designate short-term let Planning Control Areas (PCAs). This means that you need planning permission to let out whole accommodation in these areas. This is in addition to a short-term let licence.

You may wish to contact your local council for advice if you are unsure whether you need planning permission.

2. Who is it for?

The licensing scheme applies to anybody operating short-term lets in Scotland. All 32 local councils have a scheme. Regulations apply to all short-term let accommodation, unless specifically excluded.

If you are unsure whether you need a licence or not, you may wish to consider seeking independent legal advice.

 

Do you have a House of Multiple Occupations (HMO) licence?

If you offer short-term lets within your HMO, you will also need a short-term let licence in addition to your HMO licence. Unless you operate a short-term let for less than six weeks. In that case, you might be able to apply for a temporary exemption if your council offers this.

3. What do you need to do?

Local councils have information and application forms on their websites.

Getting your application right first time will help councils in processing it and it may also help you to get a decision more quickly. The timescales for determination are dependent on various factors including licensing council workloads.

Your licensing council will set out the detail and format of any documentation that you need for your application on their website. Local councils will charge a fee for making a licence application. Fees differ across local councils and for different types of licence, e.g. home sharing, home letting and secondary letting. If you need to apply for planning permission, there will also be a fee for making a planning application.

There are mandatory conditions that every short-term let in Scotland will need to follow. These relate to the safety of the activity. Licensing councils can also set extra conditions according to local needs and circumstances.

The Scottish Government has provided guidance:

4. Next steps to get ready to apply for a licence

We suggest you take the time to consider the following two actions:

  1. Check with your local council if you need planning permission or a certificate of lawfulness to operate a short-term licence. This is particularly important if you are in a Planning Control Area, but you may also need permissions outwith those areas
  2. Review the mandatory licence requirements and start the work you need to do to comply

View further information on mandatory conditions on the Scottish Government website.

5. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

We collated the following FAQs in conjunction with an Industry Advisory Group representing the sector. Many questions came from businesses that attended the ASSC short-term let regulation roadshows.

We know there are many more questions related to this new legislation. That's why we’ve pulled some of the key questions – and more importantly answers – to make it a little easier for you. These are currently grouped into three key themes:

 

More questions will be added in the future, so please check back regularly.

Getting a licence – who, what and why?

Planning permission

Other questions

6. Industry Advisory Group (IAG)

We're working closely with the associations who represent those affected by this legislation. In doing so, we formed an Industry Advisory Group.

Committed to working together, we have set out to make sure businesses have the most up-to-date information. This is in collaboration with the Scottish Government.

We want to help you through the process of applying for a short-term let licence or planning permission.

We’ll be updating this page regularly so do check back.

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