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Ross-shire MSP Kate Forbes urges Highlanders to have say on licensing Airbnbs

By Hector MacKenzie

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A ROSS-SHIRE MSP is encouraging Highlanders to respond to consultation on licensing of all Airbnbs

Kate Forbes has welcomed a new consultation from the Scottish Government’s Housing Minister Kevin Stewart on short-term lets – which includes a proposal that all AirBnBs in Scotland will require a license by April 2022.

The new consultation about the changes, which the MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch is urging constituents to take part in, closes in mid-October.

A previous government study specifically looked at the effect of short-term lets in Skye and Fort William – and particularly the impact upon affordable housing and available housing supply for locals.

Proposals include: mandatory licensing to ensure short-term lets are safe and address issues faced by neighbours; control areas so that local authorities can help manage high concentrations of secondary letting where it is affecting the availability of residential housing; and taxation to make sure short-term lets make an appropriate contribution to local communities and support local services.

Ms Forbes said: “There has been extensive debate on the lack of affordable housing in the Highlands. This is a ticking timebomb that is driving young families away and undermining efforts to retain population.

“A big part of the problem is the number of second homes and holiday lets in the Highlands and Islands.

“I know that tourism is a key driver of economic growth in the Highlands – it creates jobs and sustains businesses. I want to support tourism. However, when almost 20 per cent of houses on Skye are on Airbnb, something needs to change.

“I know there will be lots of views on how to manage it – licensing is one suggestion. I’d encourage everybody to reply.”

The consultation paper can be seen here .

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