Today is the final day for Scots to have their say on a controversial proposal to introduce a new license for short term lets.
The law is being proposed with the ambition of tackling noise and other disruption to neighbourhoods and communities by giving local authorities the power to grant and withdraw the license.
However, license operators are concerned that this will push letters out of the market with more paperwork, especially as they recover from the pandemic.
Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers Chief Executive, Fiona Campbell, said: “Despite our best efforts, and those of our colleagues across Scottish tourism, this Working Group has been revealed as nothing but a sham and therefore we have decided to leave it.
“Throughout the entire process, while we have acted in good faith, this government has continually shifted the goalposts and acted with cavalier disregard and indifference towards our sincere concerns and innovative ideas.
“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and long-before that, the Scottish tourism industry has been an example for others to follow – it is therefore extremely disappointing that our government has not held itself to the same standards and failed to back small business at this crucial time.”
But the Scottish Government say that this proposal will help empower communities to have greater say in how to manage their local tourism industry.
Social Justice Secretary Shona Robison said: “Regulation of short term lets is vital if we are to balance the needs and concerns of our communities with wider economic and tourism interests.
“Short-term lets can offer people a flexible and cheaper travel option and have contributed positively to our tourism industry and local economies across the country.
“However, we know that in certain areas, particularly tourist hot spots, high numbers of short-term lets can cause problems for neighbours and make it harder for people to find homes to live in.
“By allowing local authorities appropriate regulatory powers through a licensing scheme, we can ensure that short term lets are safe and address issues faced by local residents and communities.
“It will allow local authorities to understand more fully what is happening in their areas and assist with the effective handling of complaints.”
Local representatives are split on the issue, the Scottish conservatives are warning the proposal could have unexpected consequences in the sector and force many operators to close.
Highland Ward councillor, John Duff said: “I am extremely concerned about the potential impact of this SNP Government scheme on self-catering businesses. The SNP proposes a licensing scheme for all types of self-catering businesses, including B&Bs, guest houses, lodges and glamping pods, and has singularly failed to take on board the concerns of the industry in doing so.
“Self-catering businesses bring in over £720 million to the Scottish economy and the introduction of this scheme could result in many self-catering businesses closing with the additional knock on effect to local economies.”
Whereas the SNP representatives in the area are accusing the conservatives of fearmongering, suggesting that any charge would be much less than opponents worry.
Pete Wishart said: “True to form, the Tories have chosen to play to the gallery rather than engage substantively on this issue. As a result, we are now in a situation where a perfectly sensible licencing scheme that is estimated to cost the equivalent of just £11 a month is being cynically weaponised for political gain.”
Anyone looking to contribute their views can do so on: https://www.gov.scot/news/launch-of-consultation-on-licensing-order-for-short-term-lets/