Council engaging with Scottish Government on licensing of short term lets

A response to the Scottish Government from The Highland Council seeks clarification on the Government’s proposals for licensing of short term lets.

Highland Councillors are to discuss the local authority’s response to the Scottish Government’s Short Term Lets consultation on draft Licensing Order and Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment (BRIA) tomorrow, 31 August 2021, at the meeting of the Communities and Place Committee.

Short term lets can bring substantial economic benefits to communities but they can also have negative aspects in reducing availability of residential housing and in some circumstances, disturbing residents.

The Council has engaged on the issues around Short Term Lets with the Scottish Government since it set up its panel on the collaborative economy in 2017. The Council responded to the Government in August 2019; September 2020; to the Scottish Parliament on their call for views in January 2021 and again to the Scottish Government on the Licensing Control Order by the deadline of 13 August 2021.

The Government have published legislation on introducing Control areas to manage high concentrations of secondary letting in areas where it can affect availability of residential housing. The Council are aware of the pressures in areas of the Highlands due to short term lets and are considering options for a framework policy on Control areas.

The recent consultation was on the proposed licensing  of short term lets and it outlines changes the Government have made to the proposed Licensing Order following the previous consultation include: bothies; excluded tenancies; temporary exemptions; overprovision; public register; energy efficiency and energy performance certificates; insurance; and the definition of ‘short-term letting activity’.

Key matters raised in the response were officers’ concerns regarding the ‘overprovision’ rationale and the timescale for gathering evidence for an Overprovision Policy Statement by October 2022. Clarification has been requested as this will require Highland Council to carry out site visits and monitor compliance and enforcement on around 10,000 premises in the region.

The new regulations will have significant resource implications for the Council in terms of Planning, Licensing and Environmental Health. When the Licensing Order is brought into force the Council will have a duty to establish a licensing scheme for short-term lets in the area.

30 Aug 2021