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Curbs on Airbnb and short lets “devastating” say critics

Proposals to impose strict controls on Airbnb and other short lets - including possibly requiring planning consent and licensing - will be devastating to the rural community, it’s been claimed. 

Scottish Land & Estates, representing rural businesses and landowners north of the border, makes the claim in response to the Scottish Government consultation on a licensing scheme for short-term lets.

The government includes glamping sites, B&Bs and holiday cottages in the short lets category and SLE claims these proposals have been shaped with mainly urban areas in mind. It says they fail to take into account the important role short-term lets play across rural Scotland by providing housing for communities and workers, and bringing in tourism.


The SLE also has concerns that licensing fees and administration costs have been underestimated with some licenses potentially costing thousands of pounds.

It says because the proposals are being taken forward as secondary legislation, this does not offer an appropriate level of scrutiny for such a change “and at a time of crisis for the sector that will be most heavily impacted.”

SLE policy adviser Simon Ovenden says: “We absolutely agree that the safety of people using short-term lets is paramount and communities should not be driven apart by a lack of available long-term housing in their local area.

“We are, however, very concerned that this one size fits all approach fails to reflect the needs of rural communities and could lead to mass closures of short-term accommodation, which would have a massive impact on rural Scotland.

“In our view, the Scottish Government needs to have a serious reassessment about these proposals. We believe a simple registration scheme … would be a positive step forward and in tune with the interests of all parties. This would allow proper enforcement of existing health and safety standards and appropriate planning policy which prioritises housing development for residential use without excessive bureaucracy and spiralling costs.”

He continues: “A number of rural businesses hire seasonal and short-term workers for jobs which may only last a short number of weeks or months. Offering accommodation is key to filling these roles, but if these new laws are to be introduced then that could be put at serious risk.

“These proposals come at an awful time for many rural businesses. The Covid-19 pandemic has devastated Scotland’s tourism industry, and at a time when the Scottish Government should be supporting this vital sector, these proposals could mean the end for many rural businesses.

“These regulations will not only impact short-term let providers but will also affect other local businesses with many relying on local tourists visiting their area of rural Scotland. The wider-scale impact of such changes must be understood before any new regulations are brought into force and we do not feel adequate time has been set aside to effectively do that.”

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  • George Dawes

    What a load of twaddle, air bnb do more damage than good in my experience

    Move into a flat cause noise and utter chaos , move away with zero responsibility

    Good riddance I say

  • icon

    There's a huge difference between the Airbnb epidemic blighting many urban residential areas and rural holiday lets that have provided healthy cheap holiday for years with no problems or safety concerns.

    I'm also willing to bet it's the problem urban lets that benefit from the £7.5k tax free income whilst harming the community and legitimate local hospitality businesses who keep their customers safe and pay their taxes.


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