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A guide to short term let legislation in Scotland

In the news

If you have a holiday let or are thinking about holiday letting a property in Scotland, you will now need to follow the Scottish Government’s new requirement for registration. This is now mandatory for all short term let accommodation in Scotland.

To help you navigate the scheme we have laid out some key facts and information.


What is considered a short term let in Scotland?


In broad terms, short term let accommodation is a holiday let, B&B, room within home (they’re calling this ‘home sharing’), or an alternative type of accommodation, such as a yurt. They have created a tool so you can check whether you need a licence or not. Click here to find out whether you require a licence.



When do I need to apply?


As soon as possible. The Scottish government brought in the new registration scheme on the 1st of October 2022. 

For existing short-term let owners, operating prior to 1st October 2022, you must apply for a licence before 1st October 2023. You can continue to accept bookings and welcome guests during the application process. 

However, any new, short-term let property, ie a property used as a short-term let after the 1st October 2022, must have a licence before you can take bookings. 



What do I need to know before applying?


Firstly, it is worth making sure you know the type of short-term let accommodation licence you’re applying for. There are four in total. Holiday cottages will most likely be one of the following two ‘types’:

‘Secondary letting’ – Letting of a property where you do not normally live, for example, a second home


‘Home letting’ – Using all or part of your own home for short-term lets whilst you are absent, for example, whilst you’re on holiday

There are two other types of licences. These are ‘home sharing’ and ‘home sharing and home letting’ – this means that you share the accommodation with guests. This, therefore, would not apply for a typical self-catering holiday let scenario. You can find all the information you need on licensing types on the government website here.


Secondly, you will need to identify the local authority that covers the area where your short-term let accommodation is. It is also worthwhile checking whether the local authority has any existing temporary exemptions or restrictions. 


Finally, it is important to ensure you comply with the mandatory conditions before applying. These conditions include:

- Ensuring the day-to-day running falls under the correct type of licence

- Safety regulations are met, including fire, gas, electrical, water

- Planning permissions, insurance and occupancy figures are met

All details can be found here.



How long does a licence last?


Licences are granted by local councils and will last up to 3 years from the date of issue, depending on the individual licensing authority. It is worth noting that new holiday lets need a licence before marketing can start. 

It could take local licensing authorities up to 3 months from the application being made to consider and a further 6 months to approve/decline. Whilst the licensing authorities have been given a long timescale, most areas are working to a much shorter deadline. Some areas offer temporary licences, but you would need to check your local authority.  If the licensing authority fails to meet the deadline, the owner is deemed to have an authorised licence for 12 months. 



Temporary licences


Some local councils offer a temporary licence of up to 6 weeks however you can only apply for this once. If you are applying for a temporary licence for a new self-catering property to fill the gap until a full licence is granted, the temporary licence remains valid until the full licence application is processed.  




How much does a licence cost?


Each individual local council is responsible for setting their own fees for applications and these are based on cost recovery.



Who can make an application?


The application form should include your details and anyone involved with the day-to-day management of the property. If an agency manages the property on your behalf, then the directors and partners should be named. Cleaners do not need to be included. The process will include a fit and proper person test, the details of which are included here



What happens next?


Upon receipt of your application, the licencing authority will look to check that you and your premises are compliant with mandatory conditions, possibly through a visit, asking to see relevant documentation and making checks with Police Scotland and Scottish Fire and Rescue. 

You will be asked to display a site notice at or near your property about your application for 21 days from the date your application was submitted and further details regarding this can be found here



What happens when I receive my licence?


Information must be made available within your property in an accessible place. The information you will need to display is listed here, where you will also find further details about staying compliant.

Our Owner Support team are always on hand to help on, so please don't hesitate to send any questions our way.



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