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Airbnb-style short-term lets in Scotland face new licensing schemes and tax regulation

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13 Jan 2020


Airbnb-style short-term lets could be subject to new licensing schemes and tax regulations in Scotland by 2021.


The Scottish government announced plans to hand local authorities the power to bring in licensing schemes as part of measures introduced to compact concerns about the impact of short lets in cities such as Edinburgh. 


Scottish Housing Minister Kevin Stewart also revealed councils would be able to designate controlled short-term let areas where people would have to obtain planning permission to let out properties on a temporary basis.


Edinburgh is one of the most popular places for Airbnb style short lets; just over half (50.5%) of all Airbnb properties in Scotland are either located in the city or the Highlands.


High numbers of short-term lets in tourist hot spots can make it harder for people to find homes to live in as well as contributing to rising rents and anti-social behaviour. 


Housing campaigners said the changes were a "welcome first step".


Graeme Brown, the director of homeless charity Shelter Scotland, said the "unregulated growth" of short-term lets "has led to too many people being locked out of homes that could be let privately to help tackle Scotland's housing emergency".


Mr Stewart said he hoped the measures would ease the pressure on the rental market while not negatively impacting hosts or visitors.


Announcing the changes, Mr Stewart said: "I believe that these measures allow us to make progress in this Parliament to address a pressing issue for some of our communities but they will not unduly curtail the many benefits of short-term lets to hosts, visitors and the Scottish economy."


"By giving councils the power to set conditions around short-term lets licences and put in place planning control areas to tackle hot spots, communities across Scotland will be able to decide what is best for them and their local economy,” he continued. 


Mr Stewart added: "Everybody wants visitors, hosts, neighbours and local residents to be safe.


"That is why the licensing scheme includes a safety element which will be mandatory across Scotland for all short-term lets."


Edinburgh City Council leader Adam McVey said the changes were "extremely welcome news" and would "give us the controls that we need over short-term lets for our residents and communities across Edinburgh".


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