THE Scottish Conservatives have said they will hold a debate and force a vote on the short-term lets licensing scheme before the October deadline.

The sector has been calling for a second delay to the scheme to be introduced, but this has been ruled out repeatedly by First Minister Humza Yousaf.

The deadline had already been extended by six months to October 1, and it will be a criminal offence to let either a room in a home or an entire property after this point without a license.

READ MORE: Douglas Ross offers to back SNP rebels in vote to undo Bute House deal

The scheme covers bed and breakfasts, guest houses and self-catering sites, but will not apply to hotels.

It requires hosts to display energy performance ratings on listings, have adequate buildings and public liability insurance, as well as various fire and gas safety precautions.

Douglas Ross told business leaders and party members on Tuesday the decision was “bitterly disappointing” and would result in businesses closing their doors. 

Speaking during a keynote speech on the economy at Edinburgh’s Apex Hotel on Tuesday, Ross (below) said his opposition party would use the allocated parliamentary time to hold a debate on future delays and push a vote on MSPs in an attempt to stop the implementation in just over a month’s time.

The National:

Fiona Campbell, chief executive of the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers (ASSC), asked Ross during the Tuesday event to urge the Tories to step in to prevent businesses signing up to the scheme “under duress”.

She said the Scottish Government were “fully aware” of unlawful schemes across Scotland, including in cities like Glasgow and Dundee, but “were forcing people, under legal duress, to apply for these schemes nonetheless”.

Ross replied: “I was bitterly disappointed when I heard Neil Gray as the Cabinet Secretary say he would not respond to the legitimate concerns that had been raised and instruct a further pause.

“That was reiterated by the First Minister and I think this just shows they are unwilling to listen to business.

​READ MORE: Time limit for questions in Scottish Parliament to be introduced

“They do not have all the answers and at times they have to step back and say: ‘We have got this wrong, a one-size-fits-all all policy is not the best.’”

He added: “I think I can put the SNP and the First Minister on notice that it’s the Scottish Conservatives’ intention to hold a debate on this issue and a vote to seek to stop the implementation on October 1 which is going to put businesses out of business.”

A recent report to Edinburgh City Council suggested up to 80% of short-term let properties – such as those on booking giant AirBnB – could be lost in the city.

Last week, Humza Yousaf (below) said there would not be a pause to the scheme.

Asked again on Monday if he would consider an extension at an event at the Riverside Museum in Glasgow, the FM said: “There will not be another extension to the deadline.

The National: Susan Aitken and Humza Yousaf were at the Riverside Museum

“It is the right thing to do to bring this licensing scheme in.”

However, he acknowledged the concern from the sector, adding: “We continue to work with the sector, in fact, Cabinet Secretary Neil Gray met with the sector, I think it was just last week.

“We’ll continue to engage with the sector where we can but there’ll be no more extensions.”

Industry pressure to delay the scheme has been growing as the deadline grows closer, with the owner of short-term let agency Dickins, which rents out dozens of properties in Edinburgh, claiming it would make Scotland a “laughing stock around the world” and end the Edinburgh Fringe festival.

​READ MORE: Ex-Labour MP in damning verdict on Keir Starmer after latest U-turn

However, we told how a number of similar schemes have been introduced in numerous cities across Europe to tackle a housing crisis caused by a rise in short-term lets.

Barcelona introduced a licensing scheme in 2016, with fines of up to €60,000 for those operating a short-term let illegally, reducing AirBnB properties by around 50%.

And, Kenneth Haar, a researcher for Corporate Europe Observatory, said that claims the scheme being introduced in Scotland would make the country a “laughing stock” were “ridiculous”.