Long-term change for short-term lets

  • Insight

19 November 2019

The Scottish Government continues to pursue its broad vision of Homes fit for the 21st Century. Most recently, this finds focus in the new Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 and proposals for further change to private residential letting.

The new Planning Act includes provision – not yet in force – which will allow planning authorities to designate 'all or part of its area as a short-term let control area'. The use of a property in the designated area for short-term lets will require planning permission. The current position is that planning permission may be required, but not in every case. Lodgers and tenants under a private residential tenancy would not be caught, but Airbnb and similar arrangements would be, giving local authorities power to regulate the number and location of properties being used in this way.

The original version of this provision – introduced by Andy Wightman, MSP – would have made obtaining planning permission mandatory, without the need for designated control areas. But the final version puts it at the option of the local authority.

Another area of likely legislative change relates to the use of properties such as holiday lets and B&Bs as semi-permanent accommodation for contract and transient workers. These arrangements can lack the protection of the house in multiple occupation (HMO) legislation, by reason only that the properties are not the only or main residences of the occupants.

The proposal (put out to public consultation which closed on 8 July) is to include new categories, modes of occupation, time patterns of occupation to the definition of an HMO, which would apply even when the property is not the only or main residence of some or all of the occupants. The existing requirement for three 'or more persons who are not all members of the same family or of one or other of two families' would still apply. That means that accommodation for one or two persons will not be caught, even if the property would not be up to the standard required for an HMO licence. If that issue is sought to be addressed, it will be done separately.

This article appears in the Scottish Land & Business Autumn 2019 issue.

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