AN SNP MP has slammed calls to further delay the short-term lets licensing scheme as a “political stunt”.

Tommy Sheppard, who represents Edinburgh East, added that he believes some exemptions should be made, including for those letting out spare rooms as well as a potential festival exemption scheme for the Fringe. 

It comes after a total of 37 MSPs, including all 31 Conservatives and party leader Douglas Ross, three frontbench Labour MSPs, two LibDems, and SNP MSP Fergus Ewing signed a letter to Humza Yousaf calling for a pause to the scheme.

First Minister Yousaf has repeatedly ruled out pausing it despite growing pressure from the sector as the October 1 deadline draws closer.

From that date, new hosts will be required to apply for a short-term let licence before accepting bookings or receiving guests. 

Fiona Campbell, who is the CEO of the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers (ASSC), has been campaigning against the scheme, and claimed the legislation is “flawed” and will make Scotland a “laughing stock”.

We previously told how experts in Europe said claims that licensing short-term lets would make Scotland a “laughing stock” were “ridiculous”.

The National: Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross has not yet campaigned in the Rutherglen and Hamilton

Ross (above) has also said that the Tories will force a vote on the issue when Holyrood returns from recess, despite the legislation having passed in January 2022. He claimed that despite industry warnings “SNP-Green ministers have shamefully refused to address their concerns”. 

"This refusal to listen makes a mockery of Humza Yousaf's promise to reset his relationship with Scotland's businesses,” he added. 

"It's in the interest of society that it happens"

“It seems ridiculous to me to turn this into a political football when there's quite a lot of consensus about what ought to be done,” Sheppard told The National.

"It's just a Labour and Tories political stunt."

He went on: “​​It's in the interest of society that it happens. We need to prevent properties being taken off the market, which would make perfectly good long-term rentals for young families or workers in that area because landlords want to make a killing.

“That is an objective I support 100%, and I think everybody apart from the Tories probably does.

“I'm not saying there shouldn't be short term lets, but they need to be properly regulated. You can't have all manner of health, safety and environmental regulations for hotel operators and none of it for short-term lets – that’s daft.”

Sheppard added that they do have to guard against unintended consequences for Scotland’s tourism sector – including during Edinburgh’s festivals – but that this was already being discussed, including a festival exemption scheme.

The National:

He said: “There's quite a few of us who have been working behind the scenes to try and get changes to the scheme, working with the festivals and people who are affected – and trying to achieve the objectives of freeing up more accommodation for long-term renting without throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

“One of the things that's been floated is creating a platform for the Fringe that would allow landlords to be matched up with artists who are coming to the festival and either fast-track or bypass the registration process and get a free licence for the six weeks.

“That's somebody renting out their own flat, not private sector landlords trying to make a killing off the short-term rental market and ripping off tourists.”

Sheppard also believes an exemption to the scheme should be made for anyone trying to let out a spare room or "home sharing" – although this could mean a statutory change to the legislation. 

He said: “If somebody wants to come and stay with you for the festival, in your own home, and you're still living there, that shouldn't be part of the scheme. The whole purpose of the short-term lets regulations was to try and prevent property that was suitable for long-term rented accommodation in areas where it's desperately needed being syphoned out of that market.”