Your quick guide by TLT - Scotland's leading licensing team

A new licensing regime is coming soon, which will affect thousands of private residential and commercial properties across Scotland – Short-Term Lets Licensing.

Are there any exemptions?

There is a list of premises which are excluded from the regime. These include:

  • Long-term let premises which are certain type of legal tenancies, such as protected tenancies, assured tenancies, short assured tenancies, crofts, Scottish secure tenancies, various agricultural tenancies.
  • Premises with an alcohol licence.
  • Hotels, hostels, care homes, student accommodation, a refuge, a bothy.
  • Accommodation provided to employees in terms of their contract.

How much will it cost?

Each local authority will set their own fees and these are being worked on. We estimate the fees will usually range from £300 to £500 in most areas however could be as much as £X.

The licence will last for a maximum of three years and will require to be renewed. In some cases local authorities will only issue one year licences. You may have to incur additional expenses to (a) produce layout plans of the property, (b) make the property compliant with regulatory regimes and (c) take legal advice and representation for the hearings.

What are the deadlines?

The deadlines for the new regime are as follows:

  • If you own an existing short-term let is taking bookings pre 1 October 2022, you have until 1 April 2023 to submit an application (evidence of use will be required).
  • If you own a new short-term let where no bookings have been made pre 1 October 2022, you can apply from that date but cannot take bookings or guests until a licence is granted.

What is the process?

The application process is administered by the local authority, i.e. the council. The decision is made by the authority’s licensing / regulatory committee.

Applications will go through a detailed consultation period including site notices being displayed, notification to neighbours, and consultation with responsible authorities such as Police Scotland and the Scottish Fire Service. Applications will be called to a hearing at which the applicant would need to appear and convince the committee to grant the licence, and deal with any objections or adverse reports. 

What is the purpose of the licence?

This new scheme originates in concerns over (a) regulatory safety of private residential properties being let for profit on a commercial basis and (b) the wider community impact on properties being used in this way such as anti-social behaviour and crime.

What will be assessed?

In our experience we believe there will be three key areas that licensing committees will be looking to assess:

  • The safety of the property – is it compliant under planning, with appropriate safety certificates eg gas/electric, fire and so on?
  • The fitness of the applicant – as the licence applicant, you will be exposed to a personal “fit and proper test” – for example, if you have convictions these need to be declared
  • The impact on the local community – this is a wider test which may take into account your existing relationship with your neighbours and if there are for example any noise complaints

Which areas are affected?

Every single local authority in Scotland is introducing the regime. In some areas, local councils will be more restrictive than others and some property owners will find that they are prohibited from using the property for short-term letting altogether regardless of whether they have applied for a licence due to a combination of new planning control zones, and local licensing policies.

Will this affect me?

If you let a property on a short-term basis, such as a residential flat, cottage, holiday home, or serviced apartment (in some circumstances), you will soon need a short-term let licence. This will apply whether you use a platform such as AirBnB or more traditional methods to let the property. Without the licence, it will be a criminal offence to let it on a short-term basis.