One in three Airbnb operators face going out of business amid calls for licensing proposal delay

Scottish Government plans to introduce a strict licensing regime for short-term let operators across the country have been blasted as “ham-fisted” by the Association of Scottish Self-Caterers (ASSC).

Thursday, 15th October 2020, 4:45 pm
Updated Friday, 16th October 2020, 9:30 am
The Scottish Government has said it aims to introduce a licensing scheme for holiday lets
The Scottish Government has said it aims to introduce a licensing scheme for holiday lets

The group, which represents self-caterers, holiday let operators and Airbnbs, have long fought against further regulation of the sector.

It is now calling for a further delay to the plans from the Scottish Government, which has already been delayed to 2022 due to Covid-19.

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The plans from the Government could see Airbnb owners who operate without a licence fined up to £50,000 and would see safety requirements brought into line with the rules around private tenancies.

Councils will also be given the power to determine whether an area of their local authority has too many holiday lets through the new system.

Following a poll of 1,000 ASSC members, one-in-three Airbnb operators said they faced become “unviable” due to the plans, while half said they would leave the industry altogether.

Of those, a third said they would leave their properties empty or convert them into private use if unable to operate them as Airbnbs.

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The ASSC is now calling on the Scottish Government to delay the implementation of the new regime until after the Covid-19 recovery.

ASSC chief executive Fiona Campbell labelled the planned scheme “ham-fisted”.

She said: “Our members are rightly concerned by the potential impact of this ill-timed and ham-fisted licensing scheme.

“At this time of uncertainty and chaos, the Scottish Government should pause, reflect, and further consider the negative consequences of further impediments to our sector doing what we do best.

“The ASSC will continue to speak up for our members, and our industry, and we can only hope that the Scottish Government listens to us.”

When announcing the consultation into short-term let licensing, housing minister Kevin Stewart said high numbers of such properties could “cause problems” for neighbours and reduce housing stock.

Responding to the ASSC’s concerns, he said: “We do not underestimate the devastating impact coronavirus (COVID-19) has had on Scotland’s tourism sector – and we are not placing additional requirements on short-term lets hosts in the midst of the pandemic.

“The Scottish Government wants to see a vibrant and sustainable tourism economy in Scotland, and local people want to see their area thrive too. Our proposals to regulate short-term lets will ensure these properties adhere to a common set of safety standards to protect guests and neighbours.

“The measures followed careful consideration of responses to our 2019 consultation and evidence provided by independent research, and we believe that they are right for Scottish circumstances. Many responsible hosts will already be following these standards but we need to make sure that all comply.

“We have supported the tourism and hospitality sector through the pandemic in every way possible, given the limits of devolved power and are planning for a recovery of the sector.

"Regulation of short-term lets is part of ensuring a responsible and sustainable approach to tourism, which better balances the benefits of tourism with wider community needs and concerns.”

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