Minister confirms Scottish councils' new planning powers over short-term lets

Scottish local authorities will be given powers to designate zones where planning permission will be required for a change of use to enable homes to be used for short-term lets, the country's housing minister has confirmed.

Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. Pic: Jorge Franganillo, Flickr
Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. Pic: Jorge Franganillo, Flickr

The proposal is included in a package of measures announced by housing minister Kevin Stewart, aimed at strengthening the powers of councils to regulate short term lets, such as those promoted by home-sharing website Airbnb.

The announcement follows a consultation on the issue launched by Scottish ministers last year.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament this week, Stewart said: "Local authorities must be empowered to make sure that homes are used to best effect in their areas.

"They will be able to designate control areas where change of use of whole properties for short-term lets will be subject to planning permission."

Short-term lets control areas will be introduced using powers at section 17 of the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019, he added.

The minister also said councils would be able to implement a licensing scheme for short-term lets, including a new mandatory safety requirement for affected homes.

Additionally, ministers have committed to consider how short-term lets will be taxed in the future to ensure they make an appropriate contribution to local communities and support local services.

Stewart said the new regime would be implemented from Spring 2021.

He emphasised that renting room or allowing other people to staying in homes while the owner is on holiday will not be covered by control areas.

Stewart said: "Short-term lets can offer people a flexible travel option and have contributed positively to Scotland’s tourism industry and local economies across the country.

"However, we know that in certain areas, particularly tourist hot spots, high numbers of short-term lets are causing problems and often make it harder for people to find homes to live in.

"That is why we are empowering local authorities to implement a system that works for their area.

"By giving councils the power to set conditions around short-term lets licences and put in place planning control areas to tackle hot spots, communities across Scotland will be able to decide what is best for them and their local economy."

A summary of the proposals can be found here.

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