Scottish rural tourism faces lodging licensing regime

Agri-tourism companies in Scotland will want licences to lease out their properties from 1 July 2024 – a transfer described as “damaging’’ for farm companies reliant on earnings from short-term lets.

The controversial laws handed by the Scottish parliament Wednesday (19 January) will apply to all short-term leases of residential lodging, together with 1000’s in rural areas.

Native authorities might be required to ascertain a licensing scheme by 1 October 2022 to vet properties and the individuals who present that lodging.

Present operators can have till 1 April 2023 to use for a licence for properties that they function as short-term lets.

Three-year licensing charges

The payment for a three-year licence is uncapped, with particular person native authorities capable of set their very own price, however Caroline Millar, sector lead for Scottish Agritourism, mentioned it might be within the area of £1,500.

See additionally: profit from the rising demand for vacation lets

Mrs Millar, whose household run a vacation lodging enterprise alongside their beef, sheep and cereal farming enterprise in south Angus, described the laws as an pointless layer of crimson tape.

“Our members have been working skilled companies for as much as 50 years whereas adhering to strict well being and security necessities, however they won’t be able to function till they’re accredited for a licence.

“It could take a while for the inspections and approvals, and people time delays might interrupt enterprise.’’

Hefty fines for non-compliance

Companies that function with no licence might be fined as much as £50,000.

The laws was developed in response to considerations raised by residents and communities concerning the impact of short-term let properties on their native communities, together with noise, delinquent behaviour and, in some areas, on the provision of housing.

Our bodies supporting rural companies have reacted angrily to the brand new laws. Scottish Land and Estates (SLE), which has constantly voiced opposition to the rules, mentioned it was “extraordinarily dissatisfied” they’d been accredited.

Group coverage adviser Simon Ovenden mentioned whereas there was a necessity for motion in some localised conditions, there was a hazard on this “one-size-fits-all’’ strategy.

Paperwork and prices fears

“It’s an urban-focused licensing order being imposed on rural Scotland, with proof suggesting that the extreme forms and spiralling prices might now result in many companies closing, with a knock-on impact for the native communities they serve,’’ he mentioned.

“That is notably disappointing given the numerous problem rural companies have confronted throughout the previous two years.’’

The laws covers the entire of Scotland, together with island and rural communities.

Adam Davies, Savills’ tourism and leisure specialist in Scotland, suggested operators to begin the method of securing licenses early. 

“Native authorities could also be exhausting pushed to course of a rush of the required short-term let purposes earlier than the deadline of 1 April 2023 and this might delay house owners’ future capacity to advertise their properties as vacation lets,’’ he mentioned.

The rules are primarily based on a enterprise and regulatory affect evaluation, which is a Scottish authorities process to assist assess the doubtless prices, advantages and dangers of any proposed major or secondary laws, regulation, code of apply, or steering which will affect the general public, non-public or third sector.

Nonetheless, SLE mentioned it doesn’t embody earlier Scottish authorities work on the worth of short-term allows rural communities.

Additional points embody no differentiation between well-managed and respected companies that already adjust to current well being and security laws, and extra informal, casual hosts, it identified.

Nonetheless, operators might be spared the price of obligatory public legal responsibility insurance coverage for the reason that Scottish authorities eliminated this requirement.

The federal government has already launched laws permitting councils to ascertain short-term let management areas and handle numbers of short-term lets.

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