finance

MSPs back licensing scheme for Airbnb-style property lets



A majority of MSPs on a Holyrood committee have backed plans to introduce a licensing scheme for short-term let properties in Scotland.

However, a minority on the Local Government Committee felt a registration scheme would be more appropriate, as it placed fewer burdens on owners.

Under the Scottish Government’s plans, all Airbnb-style properties will need to have a licence from councils by 2024.

In December, the committee heard evidence from a number of groups in favour and opposed to the plans.

Amanda Cupples, Airbnb’s general manager for northern Europe, told the MSPs that hosts were “bewildered” by the proposals as she sought to highlight the impact of short-term lets on the tourism economy.

Police Scotland also contributed to the committee’s inquiry, raising concerns about criminality associated with short-term lets. It stated that some of these properties had been used for drug-dealing, prostitution and as fronts for puppy farming operations.

In a report published today, the committee said they had been persuaded that police and councils needed greater powers to tackle antisocial behaviour and criminality.

“The committee also notes the preference for a registration scheme as expressed to it by some witnesses.

“A minority of members found these arguments persuasive and would prefer for there to be a registration scheme, considering it to be a more proportionate response,” the report read.

“A majority of members, however, were persuaded of the need for a licensing scheme primarily on the basis that a registration scheme would not give local authorities and Police Scotland the powers they need to tackle antisocial behaviour and criminality associated with some short-term lets.”

The document noted that the impact of short-term lets on the tourism sector was unclear and stressed the importance of a review taking place in 2023.

The committee also considered submissions from Community Land Scotland and a petition from the tenants union Living Rent, who wanted to see powers to tackle over-provision of short-term lets reintroduced into the legislation.

MSPs on the committee said it was not possible to amend the current licensing order and said the issue should be revisited by the Scottish Government’s review in 2023.

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