MSPs have approved the introduction on a licensing scheme for Airbnb-style short-term lets despite a last-ditch attempt for them to be watered down.
Housing Secretary Shona Robison welcomed the approval of the regualtions by MSPs, stressing it “will allow local authorities and communities to take action to manage issues more effectively, without unduly curtailing the many benefits of short-term lets to hosts, visitors and the economy”.
Self-catering business leaders had called for a registration scheme to be rolled out instead of the SNP Government plan for all premises to obtain a licence to be able to operate.
Tory housing spokesperson Miles Briggs launched a late bid for the registration proposal to be revived.
He pointed to a “potential negative impact” on “already fragile tourism businesses”.
Mr Briggs warned that the amended plans “largely remain unchanged”, adding that “concerns have been dismissed” after being raised by the industry.
He added: “What is concerning is that the views of this sector has not been taken on board.”
He appealed for the registration scheme to be rolled out instead, claiming it would be a “workable solution”.
But Ms Robison rejected the registration scheme being taken forward.
She said: “We do not believe that registration offers the same protection as licensing does to guests, neighbours and local communities.”
Local authorities will be required to establish a short-term lets licensing scheme by October 1 and existing hosts and operators will have until April 1, 2023, to apply for a licence.
Ms Robison added: “This legislation is a significant milestone on our path to bringing in an effective system of regulating short-term lets.
“Our licensing scheme will allow local authorities and communities to take action to manage issues more effectively, without unduly curtailing the many benefits of short-term lets to hosts, visitors and the economy.”
She added: “We have already introduced legislation allowing councils to establish short-term let control areas and manage numbers of short-term lets. This is the next step to delivering a licensing scheme that will ensure short-term lets are safe and that allowing them to continue to make a positive impact on Scotland’s tourism industry and local economies while meeting the needs of local communities.
“This legislation covers the whole of Scotland, including island and rural communities, and offers flexibility to local authorities in how it is implemented based on local needs and concerns.
“We appreciate the input from tourism bodies, local government, community organisations, residents and others in reaching this point.”
Fiona Campbell, chief executive of the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers (ASSC), said: “The ASSC have always sought a collaborative approach to short-term let regulation.
“While disappointed that we were not able to persuade SNP and Scottish Green MSPs, we are very grateful for the support of Scottish Conservative, Scottish Labour and Scottish Lib Dem MSPs who voted against short-term let licensing to protect our sector, as well as the shrewd and informed interventions from former Scottish Government cabinet secretary Fergus Ewing MSP who backed Scottish tourism by speaking out against these ‘arbitrary, irrational, and draconian’ regulations.”
She added: “The ASSC maintain that the licensing order remains unfit for purpose, lacks an evidence base and was more often than not based on groundless fears, anecdote and hearsay.
“The self-catering sector has been used as a convenient scapegoat for wider policy failures by government, especially on housing. In contrast, our proposal for a mandatory registration scheme with health and safety provisions had cross-industry and cross-party support and would have provided a robust and legally effective regulatory regime.”