New legislation laid before the Scottish Parliament regarding short-term lets in Scotland is a setback for rural businesses already damaged by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to rural consultancy Galbraith.

“At a time when the hospitality sector has faced  a significant decline in revenue since the start of the pandemic, increased regulation is an unnecessary and unwelcome addition,” said rural business advisor with Galbraith, Annie Lane.

“The legislation is being introduced to tackle lack of housing supply in popular tourist areas, but an unintended consequence is the excessive burden on small rural businesses.

“Scotland’s tourism sector is one of our great strengths but if every small glamping site or holiday cottage has to apply for a licence there will be a significant impact. At a time when the longer-term options for rural businesses are in a state of flux and agricultural costs are rising, this over-regulation of holiday lets seems excessive.”

Short-term lets legislation

Under the legislation laid before parliament, all local authorities will be required to establish a short-term lets licensing scheme by October 2022. Existing hosts and operators will have until April 1, 2023 to apply for a licence for each property that they operate as a short-term lets.

All short-term lets in Scotland will have to be licensed by July 1, 2024.

The new legislation is subject to approval by MSPs.

The legislation, according to Scottish government, was developed after residents across Scotland raised significant concerns about the impact of short-term lets on their communities, including noise, antisocial behaviour and the impact on the supply on housing in some areas.

Housing Secretary Shona Robison has previously stated:

“Short-term lets can offer people a flexible travel option. However, we know that in certain areas, particularly tourist hotspots, high numbers of lets can cause problems for neighbours and make it harder for people to find homes to live in. The licensing scheme and control area legislation give councils the powers to take action where they need to.”

“The legislation has been introduced to address concerns raised by some communities about the impact of short term letting on the supply of housing in certain areas. By allowing councils to manage the number of short-term lets in areas of high concentration it is hoped that the availability of housing for local people can be improved,” Lane said.

“However, it seems that some of the wider issues in the supply of housing have not been addressed and this legislation will simply damage the rural tourism sector unnecessarily.”