A plan to introduce a license for short-term letters aimed at tackling issues of safety, noise and anti-social behaviour is being delayed until after the next election to lead the Scottish Parliament.
Now the Scottish Government intends to re-lay the legislation before Parliament in June, after meeting with a ‘stakeholder working group’ to start a dialogue on the legislation.
Objection the proposal before it was delayed, Conservative Highland Ward councillor, John Duff said: “The SNP Government seems determined to inflict further pain on self-catering, Bed and Breakfast and guest house owners after many of them have had to wait months for any hint of financial support.”
After news of the proposal being held back until after the election, Mr Duff’s colleague, and Mid Scotland and Fife MSP, Murdo Fraser expressed his relief.
He said: “I am pleased that the government has now decided to postpone the introduction of these new regulations, but I’m concerned they’re just talking about a short-term deferral and they will be brought back in if the SNP are re-elected as part of the government.”
The Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers (ASSC) says that the law have ‘operators potentially being liable for up to £5,000 in order to meet the potential minimum standards of EPCs (Energy Performance Certificate).
But the government is putting the legislation forward in an effort to give local councils more powers over short-term lets because of their concern that the number of lets is affecting the housing supply.
Housing minister Kevin Stewart said: However, we know that in certain areas, particularly tourist hot spots, high numbers of these arrangements can cause problems for neighbours and make it harder for people to find homes to live in.
“The views and evidence from our previous consultation and research showed broad consensus for some form of regulation.
“Our proposals will allow local authorities and communities facing the most severe pressures to take action to manage those more effectively from next year.”
But now the proposal has been delayed and is going to be considered after the election.
Announcing the postponement of the law, Mr Stewart said: “I am writing to advise you that I have decided to withdraw the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 (Licensing of Short-term Lets) Order 2021. This Government’s intention, subject to the outcome of the election, is to re-lay the Order in June and keep to the timetable we have set out.”
He added: “This revised approach will facilitate Members in understanding how the concerns of operators and hosts have been addressed and in seeing, through the draft guidance, how the licensing scheme will operate in practice.
“I remain firmly of the view that legislation is needed and I want to reassure affected residents and communities across Scotland of our commitment to deliver this, subject to the outcome of the election.”
Weighing in on the issue, Perthshire North’s MP, Pete Wishart said: ““It is absolutely clear from the consultation that many people in Perthshire have concerns about the short-term let industry’s impact on the local housing market, as well as potential noise and anti-social behaviour issues. While I believe that many of these concerns are legitimate, I also recognise that the short-term let business is a significant contributor to our local economy. To that end, the Scottish Government’s proposals strike a very reasonable balance between respecting the needs of the short-term let sector and acknowledging the views of many locals.
“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.”
Reacting to the postponement, Councillor Duff said: “A future SNP Government seems determined to inflict further pain on Self-Catering, Bed and Breakfast and Guest House owners. Many of them have had to wait months for any hint of financial support and these planned regulations on short-term lets from the SNP would add significant implications and costs for these hard-pressed business owners.
“Given the considerable reliance on tourism in Highland Perthshire, implementation of these proposals should the SNP form the next Scottish Government concerns me greatly. It would have a significant negative impact on the local economy, tourism and house prices.”