Shepherd and Wedderburn LLP
  September 16, 2022 - Scotland

  by Kevin Clancy

A new licensing scheme is coming into force in Scotland to regulate short-term lets. The scheme requires hosts of self-catering accommodation to have a licence in place to accept bookings and welcome guests. This article explains who needs to apply for a licence, when the deadlines are, and how to apply. 

Do I need to apply for a licence?

The licensing scheme applies to the whole of Scotland, so hosts who let out their properties on a short-term basis anywhere in the country may need to apply for a licence. Some residential accommodation is specifically excluded (such as hotels, hostels and caravan sites), as are certain types of tenancy arrangements, but most other hosts must apply for a licence.

For the purposes of the licensing scheme, a short-term let is defined as “the use of residential accommodation provided by a host in the course of business to a guest, where all of the following criteria are met:

When is the deadline for the licence?

The licencing scheme comes into effect in three phases, starting on 1 October 2022. 

From 1 October 2022

From 1 April 2023

1 July 2024

How do I apply for a licence?

Before applying for a licence you must determine which type of licence you require. There are four types of licences

  1. Licence for home sharing (where you let out part of your home to a guest who occupies the property along with you);
  2. Licence for home letting (where you let out your entire home while you are not occupying it);
  3. Licence for home sharing and home letting (a combination of licences 1 and 2 above); or
  4. Licence for secondary letting (where you have an additional property which you let out to guests).

You must submit an application form to the relevant local authority to obtain a licence. Along with the application form you will be required to provide information about the property, the people involved in letting it out, and details about the property’s safety compliance. Most local authorities are still to release the details of how their application system will operate; however, each licensing scheme will be open to accept applications by 1 October 2022. 

If you have multiple properties, you will be required to submit an application for each property to the relevant local authority. 

You may also need to think about whether planning permission is required for your property. We will cover planning permission and control areas in the next article in our short-term lets series.

Each local authority will have slightly different fees and requirements, so if you have multiple properties it will be essential to ensure you follow the correct procedure and pay the correct fee for each local authority. 

At the same time as lodging the application form, you will also be under an obligation to display what is called a Site Notice on or near the property (which gives notice to neighbours that an application has been made). That Site Notice must be on display for 21 days, and there is a period of 28 days within which objections to the application may be lodged.

Thereafter, it will be for the local authority licensing committee to determine whether or not the application should be granted (and the committee may convene a hearing to determine the application).

Where a licence is required, it is a criminal offence for a host to operate without one, so obtaining a licence in good time is important. 

Our licensing team has been advising clients throughout the consultation process for the new short-term let rules. If you wish to discuss how these new regulations will affect you, please get in touch with our specialist licencing team, who are more than happy to assist.