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Licensing of short-term lets in Scotland

Published: 24 November 2023
Time to read: 3 mins

Typical townhouses and front doors in the New Town district of Edinburgh, Scotland

As of 1 October 2023, the provision of short-term property lets in Scotland is now subject to a licensing scheme.  Operating a short-term let without a licence is a criminal offence and can carry fines of up to £2,500.  New applicants, irrespective of whether they are existing or new hosts, cannot take bookings until their application has been determined by the council, unless they are operating under a temporary licence.

Types of licence

There are 4 types of short-term let licences:

  • Secondary letting
  • Home letting
  • Home sharing
  • Home letting and home sharing.

A short-term let is a secondary let if the owner does not live in the property.  Typically, that will be a second property used for holiday lets.  Home letting involves letting out all or part of your primary home whilst you are not there.  Home sharing, as the name suggests, involves letting out part of your property whilst you remain there.

In addition to the licensing scheme, all properties within Edinburgh are deemed to be within a short-term let control area.  That means planning permission for use as a short-term let must be obtained prior to a license application being submitted to the City of Edinburgh Council.

Conditions on the property

Several mandatory conditions, pertaining to the safety and condition of the short-term let property, must be met.  Further, specific conditions may be imposed by councils and reference should be made to the relevant council’s guidance prior to submission.

Production of the various reports and risk assessments needed may require a specialist contractor to visit the property.  These include:

  • Gas Safety Certificate
  • Electrical Installation Condition report (EICR)
  • Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) report
  • Legionella risk assessment
  • Fire risk assessment

It is important to note that if your accommodation was used as a short-term let prior to 1 October 2022, an application was required to be submitted by 1 October 2023 for hosts to continue to accept guest bookings whilst the relevant council determined their application.  Councils have nine months to process new applications and twelve months to process applications from existing hosts.

The future of short-term lets in Scotland

The scheme creates uncertainty as to the future of the market for short-term lets in Scotland, particularly in Edinburgh where planning permission is an additional requirement.  We would advise all prospective hosts to apply for a licence as soon as possible.  If you would like our assistance in that respect, please get in touch with a member of our team.

Alternatively, property owners may decide to let their property on a full-time basis under a private residential tenancy.  Others may choose to sell.  If you are considering selling a property, please do get in touch with our Residential Property Team.

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