As we told members at the end of last year, we are very concerned at the way the Scottish Government is choosing to regulate "short-term lets" (STLs).
The original intention was to tackle the very real problems which have arisen (especially in cities like Edinburgh) as a result of the explosive growth of unregulated accommodation on platforms like Airbnb. These represent a danger to consumers, a nuisance to neighbouring residents - and of course, very unfair competition to B&Bs who comply with existing rules and are checked and inspected for fire safety etc.
We made a fuller submission at an earlier stage of this process (July 2019), and are NOT generally in favour of the approach now chosen; hence this brief submission confines itself to remaining points within the remit of the current consultation.
As we understand it, UCO "Class 7" (Hotels and hostels) are excluded from the definition of a "short term let" under 4.7. These are premises used "as a hotel, boarding house, guest house, or hostel".
We would like to clarify that this means that "traditional" B&Bs and guesthouses are NOT subject to the proposed legislation on short-term lets.
Should a B&B or guesthouse happen NOT currently to be classed under "Class 7", we would like it clarified that the application for change of use class to Class 7 will be expedited by the appropriate planning authority, to avoid businesses not intended to be subject to these regulations being drawn in.
3 Please identify any issues with the proposed licensing order as set out in chapter 6, and how to resolve them.
We have never been in favour of a licensing scheme, preferring a low-cost registration scheme. However, if a licensing scheme has been decided on, we strongly advise that thought be given to making it affordable to micro-businesses. The regulations seem to provide for the relevant department to decide how much to spend, then divide that figure by the number of properties and charge accordingly.
To us, that is a recipe for over-spend in cost and consequently for very small enterprises to be hit with punitive charges as the price of doing any business at all. That would be unfair, disproportionate and damaging to Scotland's economy and to tourism.
The main purpose of this regime (we believe) should be to bring accommodation on "peer to peer platforms" - which come within the definition of "short term lets" - into a comparable safety compliance, inspection and enforcement regime as that currently applied to our members (B&Bs & guesthouses). The licensing scheme should NOT be aimed at being financially punitive.
The license fee for the smallest properties/businesses should be set bearing this in mind, and after consultation with industry representatives - and kept under review.
“There is no way on gods earth we could continue to trade if this comes into force. Plus in these uncertain times, where we have had no bookings for the past 3 months, despite still being open, is just ludicrous.If this does go ahead we ( and I’m sure many others) we will have to stop trading, we would be running at a loss.”A B&B owner in Orkney“This will be damaging to our business and others alike… Having been closed for most of the past 12 months and only having one grant from the Government to cover our costs, this will truly put another strain on our already struggling business.”A B&B owner in Moffat
2. Has the Scottish Government’s defined short terms lets in a clear and correct way in the legislation?
3. Will local authorities have adequate resources, powers and expertise to make a success of their new powers and duties?
If you own a B&B or Guesthouse in Scotland and are not yet a member of the B&B Association (which includes membership of the Scottish B&B Association), there are many reasons to join us - including helping us lobby against onerous and expensive STL rules affecting your business. You can join us for just over £1 a week (£55 a year) - click here for details.