Short-term lets Scotland: Cross-party MPs urge Humza Yousaf to pause licensing scheme

Pressure is mounting on First Minister Humza Yousaf to pause short-term lets regulations as a group of cross-party MSPs call for a rethink of the licensing scheme.

Mr Yousaf ruled out a further delay to the deadline after it was originally pushed back by six months following scrutiny from industry leaders. Hosts will need to display energy performance ratings on listings, have adequate buildings and public liability insurance, and various fire precautions in place.

Small businesses have warned they will be forced to close their doors as a result of the scheme due the costs for obtaining a licence ranging from £250 to £5,869.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

A letter addressed to the First Minister calling for a pause is signed by all 31 Scottish Conservative MSPs, SNP rebel Fergus Ewing, Labour's Jackie Baillie, Mark Griffin and Daniel Johnson, as well as Liberal Democrats Willie Rennie and Liam McArthur.

Tenement flats along Comely Bank in Edinburgh. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA WireTenement flats along Comely Bank in Edinburgh. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire
Tenement flats along Comely Bank in Edinburgh. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire

In an appeal to Mr Yousaf, the letter said: "We understand this flawed legislation is the legacy of a previous administration, so you have every right to pause it until a workable solution can be found.

"We are not asking you to scrap the principles, instead we are asking for your help to protect countless Scottish businesses – and the people and families that depend on them – from entirely avoidable hardship.

"Ministers must pause the introduction of the legislation and urgently reassess its effects on not only the tourism sector, but the wider economy and people's lives."

It comes as recent data revealed just 2.2 per cent of operators who have applied for planning permission in Edinburgh – the first step in obtaining a certificate – have been approved.

Operators, including AirBnBs and guesthouses, will not be able to continue trading until they have applied for the scheme, which is being run by individual local authorities. The letter also urges ministers to adopt the solutions suggested by the Association of Scotland's Self-Caterers (ASSC), which include for a distinction for mid-term rentals which house workers temporarily, and a set fee introduced by the Scottish Government for all businesses.

Fiona Campbell, chief executive of ASSC, welcomed the cross-party calls for a delay, saying the scheme could "destroy" the tourism sector.

Former tourism minister Mr Ewing, who has been a fierce critic of his party's policy, said failing to halt it would "cause irreparable damage to a sector with thousands of businesses impacted – some of whom may well simply give up".

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

On Tuesday, Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross put Mr Yousaf "on notice" over his intention to force a vote on halting the controversial legislation when Holyrood returns next week.

Housing minister Paul McLennan said: “Licensing has been developed following a period of significant change in the market for short-term let properties and in response to community concern about the impact of short-term lets in neighbourhoods.

“A similar scheme is being proposed by the Welsh government. Holiday lets can contribute enormously to Scotland’s tourism industry, so the licensing scheme will give assurance to guests over the safety and consistent quality of lets, such as gas certificate compliance and suitable electrical equipment.”



Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.