Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon [Credit: Holyrood Magazine]

Scottish government launches consultation period

Scotland: The Scottish government has launched a formal consultation on short-term lets, following a speech by the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s speech at the SNP Conference.

The government said it was launching the consultation period to gauge Scottish citizens’ views on a potential regulatory system of short-term lets in the country, which would make rentals subject to the same controls and restrictions as other existing tourist accommodations.

Sturgeon launched the consultation as part of a package of housing measures, including putting aside a further £150 million in support of first-time buyers. She added that she wanted to ultimately give councils the power to control and limit the number of lets in Scotland.

The number of short-term lets in Scotland has risen significantly in a relatively small timescale in recent years, leading to strong arguments on either side of the debate regarding the effectiveness and legality of short-term rentals. The First Minister is hoping to use the consultation to listen to issues arising from rentals, develop the powers of local authorities with regards to regulating lets and understand other approaches to the overall issue around the world.

In 2018, the Scottish government laid out its Programme for Government, which made a commitment to ensure that local authorities had “appropriate regulatory powers to balance the needs and concerns of their communities with wider economic and tourism interests.

Any regulatory approach would potentially involve registration and/or licensing of short-term lets and enable different departments of the government to tailor the approach to the local needs and priorities of their local areas.

In addition, the consultation will include:

• Collating opinions on Airbnb will be important as for some, it has enabled cheaper, more flexible travel, but for others, it is making it harder to find homes to live in tourist hotspots like central Edinburgh if prices are being driven up as a result.
• The government is setting out plans to help cities like Edinburgh and islands like Arran address the balance of short-term lets.
• The government wants to give councils the power to control the number of lets and ensure that they make a contribution to the services they use.
• In order to identify the best solution for everyone, the government wants to ask communities, landlords, local authorities and businesses across Scotland how councils can best use their planning, health and safety and regulatory powers to support local communities, and whether further powers are required.
• The consultation will seek views on the appropriate use of planning, health and safety, regulation and taxation powers in order to ensure local authorities can secure an appropriate balance between the needs of communities and the role of short-term lets as part of our tourism industry.

The consultation period opened on 29 April and will run until 19 July. For more information, visit the consultation website here.

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