Rural Businesses set to Suffer as Short-term Lets Legislation Passes

Press Release

Rural businesses are set to suffer following the Scottish Parliament’s passing of a short-term lets licensing order which is hugely disproportionate to the problems that are claimed to be managed, Scottish Land & Estates has said today.

SLE has consistently raised strong concerns that the draft licensing order had been shaped with mainly urban businesses in mind and failed to take into account the important role short-term lets play across rural Scotland by providing housing for communities and workers, as well as bringing in vital tourism.

Following thousands of consultation responses expressing concern at the proposed plans, the Scottish Government revised its draft order last autumn to make a number of changes including removing overprovision powers and reducing public liability insurance requirements. However, SLE has consistently highlighted that while such amendments were welcome, they fell far short of meeting needs of rural businesses.

SLE argues that there are a number of outstanding issues that the licensing order does not address including a one size fits all approach that fails to reflect the diversity of rural businesses as well as being based on a flawed Business & Regulatory Impact Assessment (BRIA) that excludes previous Scottish Government work on the value of short-term lets in rural communities. Further issues include no differentiation between well-managed and reputable businesses who already comply with existing health and safety legislation, and more casual, informal hosts, alongside potentially disproportionate license fees and threats that up to three-year licenses could be withdrawn in the future.

Commenting on today’s vote, Scottish Land & Estates Policy Adviser, Simon Ovenden, said:

“We’re extremely disappointed that these proposals have been passed by the Scottish Parliament, albeit with some welcome opposition that recognised the damage that this legislation will have on rural businesses. 

“While we understand the need for action in some localised situations, we have constantly warned of the dangers of a one size fits all approach. This urban-focused licensing order being imposed on rural Scotland, with evidence suggesting that the excessive bureaucracy and spiraling costs could now lead to many businesses closing with a knock-on impact to the local communities they serve.

“This is particularly disappointing given the significant difficulty rural businesses have faced during the last two years.”