Scottish accommodation industry criticises planned regulations

UK: Multiple members of Scotland’s holiday home and self-catering accommodation industry have voiced their opposition to new proposed regulations from the Scottish government in a letter. 

The government is currently carrying out its final stage of consultations before implementing an overhaul of short-term rentals law.

Scotland proposed new regulations on the industry this January, primarily in response to growing concerns over housing in cities like Edinburgh. It has been undergoing consultation throughout the summer and fall in order to stick to its initial schedule of a 2021 implementation.

However, industry leaders in the country believe that the original timetable does not account for changes in the industry brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers [ASSC] has published a letter signed by 38 business leaders claiming that the current schedule may threaten the industry.

The letter reads: “While minds have been focused elsewhere, the Scottish Government remain firmly set on a timetable which dictates that the secondary legislation must be laid by December 2020 in order that the regulations come into force by Spring 2021. We do not believe that a full explanation has been provided as to the rationale behind this especially as numerous Covid-19 restrictions have been placed upon affected businesses and uncertainty endures as to when these might be lifted.”

Many key tourism groups have signed, including the Federation of Small Businesses, Confederation of British Industry, Institute of Directors, Scottish Retail Consortium and Scottish Chambers of Commerce.

Global leaders have also voiced their opposition to new rules. Airbnb published a study last week claiming that new regulations could lead to the loss of 17,000 jobs and cost the Scottish economy almost £1 million a day.

Others have been more mixed in their criticism, noting that laws to manage bad actors in the sector are necessary. Marc Crothall, chief executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, told The Herald that he is not opposed to regulations, but is concerned that they are being forced through at a dangerous time for the industry.

Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said in response: “Our proposals to regulate short-term lets will ensure these properties adhere to a common set of safety standards to protect guests and neighbours. This is part of our work to ensure a responsible and sustainable approach to tourism, which better balances the benefits of tourism with wider community needs and concerns.”