Airbnb-style short-term lets could be subject to new licensing schemes from spring next year, the Scottish Government has announced.
As well as handing councils the power to bring in licensing schemes, local authorities will in future be able to designate new control areas for short-term lets, with those wanting to let out properties in this way first having to obtain planning permission.
The measures are being introduced following concerns about the impact such lets have on areas such as Edinburgh – one of the most popular places for Airbnb listings.
Just over half (50.5%) of all Airbnb properties in Scotland are either in the city or the Highlands.
Announcing the changes, Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said: “I believe these measures allow us to make progress in this Parliament to address a pressing issue for some of our communities but they will not unduly curtail the many benefits of short-term lets to hosts, visitors and the Scottish economy.”
The Scottish Government will monitor the impact of the moves, with Mr Stewart saying he could come back with legislation if problems persist.
He 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.”
Edinburgh City Council leader Adam McVey said the changes were “extremely welcome news” adding: “Today’s announcement by the minister meets our request for mandatory licences and we will now be in a position to more effectively implement planning controls to stop the increase of short-term lets.”
Graeme Brown, director of homeless charity Shelter Scotland, said the “unregulated growth” of short-term lets “has led to too many people being locked out of homes that could be let privately to help tackle Scotland’s housing emergency”.
And Megan Bishop from Living Rent, Scotland’s tenants’ union, hailed the announcement as a “huge step forward”.