Housing

New short-term lets plans could see landlords fined £50,000

Councils in Scotland will hand out temporary 28-day licences to Airbnb operators under the new plans

The Scottish Government has launched its final consultation on their crackdown on rogue Airbnb-style homeowners, in a bid to stop already scarce housing becoming even harder to come by.

The short-term lets company has been forced to tighten rules to crack down on illegal raves during Covid-19. And the pandemic has called into question the dominance of short-term lets, particularly in London where nearly 81,000 properties were listed on Airbnb last year with up to 23 per cent breaching the 90-day limit.

The new regulations will require landlords to hold a licence and could land them with a fine of up to £50,000 if they operate without one.

Last year the Scottish Government found nearly 32,000 homes and private rooms listed on Airbnb.

Housing minister Kevin Stewart said: “Short-term lets can offer people a flexible and affordable accommodation option and they have contributed positively to Scotland’s tourism industry and local economies across the country.

“However, we know that in certain areas, particularly tourist hot spots, high numbers of these arrangements can cause problems for neighbours and make it harder for people to find homes to live in.

“The views and evidence from our previous consultation and research showed broad consensus for some form of regulation. Our proposals will allow local authorities and communities facing the most severe pressures to take action to manage those more effectively from next year.”

The new regulations will be implemented in April next year but councils are expected to allow time for application submission and processing before taking action on landlords. All hosts must be licensed by the end of March 2024.

Scottish Greens housing spokesperson Andy Wightman said that “this action on regulating short term lets is long overdue but welcome nonetheless”.

He added: “Today’s consultation document is a comprehensive and detailed outline of what will be required. I welcome, for example, the proposal that online accommodation platforms may have to display licence numbers and that planning consent will be a mandatory requirement for a license.

“However, given that we now know that the vast majority of short term let properties – in Edinburgh at least – are operating unlawfully, there needs to a commitment to the open data and resources to enable regulations to be enforced and for compliance to be monitored.”

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