Short-term rentals in Scotland: How the Scottish Government has sought to strike a balance between tourism and addressing the issues – Shona Robison MSP

Short-term contracts help boost tourism but have led to a number of problems, including noise complaints and further pressure on house prices.

However, we also know that in areas, particularly tourist hotspots, a large number of rentals can cause problems for neighbors and communities.

This includes noise and anti-social behavior issues from nearby properties and concerns about the impact on local housing supply, with local people experiencing difficulty finding homes to live in and getting to work or education. MSPs were regularly asked by constituents what action the government could take to address their concerns.

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This is a national problem that does not just affect urban Edinburgh or rural islands. We have heard from residents of Ayr to Applecross, the Trossachs to North Berwick and Skye to St Andrews.

We heard the story of a guest who was struggling to communicate with his host when there was a gas leak on the property. A property in West Linton was used as a large party house, causing a major disturbance in the local community. One flat was even used as a brothel.

Along with three independent public consultations and research, all of this formed part of the evidence we used to find a way to balance the needs of residents with the benefits of short-term rentals.

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I think we have that balance right with the actions we’ve taken. We have already introduced legislation that allows municipalities to manage the number of short-term rentals by establishing control areas. Last week, Parliament also approved a new licensing scheme.

This is a measure that will keep guests safe by ensuring that all hosts are suitable and that properties adhere to a defined set of security standards. The scheme also gives local authorities the flexibility to add more conditions to address problems in their particular areas, if necessary.

I appreciate the input we have received from tourism agencies, local government, community organizations and others as we develop these plans. We have listened to the short-term rental industry and have made significant changes based on your valuable feedback.

I can understand why some operators and hosts might have doubts about the licensing scheme. But we don’t expect getting a license to be onerous, and estimate average indicative fees to be between £214 and £436 to cover a three-year licence, which works out to between £6 and £12 per month.

Additionally, many hosts will already adhere to the standards as a matter of best practice or compliance with existing law. And hosts and operators have until July 2024 to ensure all short-term rental properties are licensed.

This legislation is a significant milestone in our journey to achieve an effective system for regulating short-term rentals. It will give visitors to our beautiful country, or those traveling within Scotland, the confidence that no matter where they choose to stay, their short term rental is safe and operated by a suitable host.

And it will allow hosts to continue to play such a vital role in our tourism industry, giving people from all over the world a warm Scottish welcome.

Shona Robison is Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government and MSP for Dundee City East

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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