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Short-term let providers across Highlands reminded of licence requirements and looming deadline for action

By Hector MacKenzie

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ALL hosts of short-term lets across the Highlands are legally required to obtain a new short-term let licence from Highland Council.

Hosts who were already operating a short-term let before October 1 last year have until October 1 this year to apply for a licence.

They can continue to operate whilst their application is being determined.

New hosts from October 1, 2022, who wish to set up and operate a short-term let for the first time, are required to apply and obtain a licence before they can accept bookings or receive guests.

The new licence will require hosts to meet a set of mandatory conditions – many of which are already best practice within the sector, or required by existing law. The new legislation introduces mandatory standards for all short-term lets across Scotland.

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There are a number of conditions that hosts will need to meet in order to be granted a licence such as displaying an EPC rating on adverts and listings (where applicable), ensuring there are valid buildings and public liability insurance in place for the accommodation, arranging an electrical safety inspection and completing a Legionella risk assessment.

The tourism sector makes a significant contribution to the Scottish economy – in 2019, there were around 17.3 million overnight visitors to Scotland, spending £5.7billion. The legislation ensures that hosts meet the mandatory standards, helping to protect the positive reputation of Scottish hospitality and confidence amongst visitors and local communities.

Hosts will also be required to pay an application fee to obtain a licence, but the fee will typically vary depending on the property location, size and type of let.

Housing Secretary Shona Robison said: “While short-term lets bring benefits to hosts, visitors and the Scottish economy they need to be balanced with the needs of residents and local communities. We are taking action to ensure all short-term lets are safe and local authorities have powers to tackle local issues.

“The principal component of our licensing scheme is a mandatory set of safety standards, which many hosts will already be following as a matter of compliance with existing law or best practice. I encourage those existing hosts that have yet to do so to apply well in advance of the extended deadline to join the growing number of licensed premises in the sector.

“This will not only ensure the safety of guests and the wider community but also help to maintain the reputation of the Highlands as a welcoming and responsible destination for visitors.”

Short-term lets include home-shares (i.e. letting a room in your home out) or anyone who lets their home out while they’re not there (i.e. on holiday). The new regulation also includes the let of entire premises (i.e. full-time, self-catering properties such as holiday cottages) as well as hosts responsible for B&Bs and guest houses.

The new licence is a legal obligation for all hosts, even if they occasionally let out a spare room or sub-let while on holiday for example. Those who fail to acquire a licence will be at risk of being fined up to £2500 and ineligible to apply for a licence for a year. Hosts are required to contact their local authority to find out about the specific licensing requirements within the area that their short-term let is located, including fees, any additional conditions and the application process.

For more information about the licensing scheme, whether your accommodation requires a licence and how to apply visit gov.scot/shorttermlets.

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