CAMPAIGNERS against new regulations have protested outside the Scottish Parliament.

They are accusing the Scottish Government of “demonising” operators of short-term let accommodation, claiming the changes also signal tourists are “not welcome”.

A new licensing regime for short-term, Airbnb style lets is due to come into force in Scotland on October 1, with property owners having to apply for a licence by then if they wish to continue trading.

Ministers have said the scheme, which has already been delayed by six months, will ensure short-term let properties are regulated in the same way as other types of accommodation, such as hotels and caravan parks.

Multiple Tory MSPs posed with campaigners from the Save Self Catering in Scotland including Edward Mountain, who has registered rental properties as an interest.

A survey by the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers (ASSC) had previously found 64% of operators are considering leaving the sector because of the change.

READ MORE: No short-term let applications have been rejected in Scotland

Speaking ahead of Tuesday’s protest, self-catering host and campaigner, Louise Dickins, claimed ministers had been “unclear” why the change was being made, with improving health and safety and tackling the housing shortage amongst the reasons given.

But she added: “Two things are clear. The Scottish Government is demonising law-abiding people who let their properties for self-catering or welcome guests into a spare bedroom, while at the same time signalling to tourists that they are not welcome.”

Calling for First Minister Humza Yousaf to “put a stop” to the new system, she added: “The Government is stripping Scotland of the very accommodation needed for a thriving tourism industry.

“It is destroying livelihoods, all the while making a mockery of Scotland and its ability to form coherent and lawful legislation.”

Dickins continued: “It appears that this legislation was designed to close 30 party flats in Edinburgh, but the reality is that it risks forcing the closure of two thirds of the sector across Scotland.

“Self-catering hosts have already abandoned Scotland in their droves, and holidaymakers – who are vital to otherwise fragile communities – may soon abandon it too.

“Other home nations will win from this policy, while Scottish businesses look on in despair.”

The National:

Dickins said: “I’ve run my business for two decades, I have never hosted a party flat, I have never had a complaint, I have contributed to my community and more.

“Why am I being punished for the Government’s inability to deal with a very small number of rogue operators?

“It’s madness and Humza Yousaf needs to put a stop to it now.”

Another member of the group, Ralph Averbuch, who runs a self-catering business in Edinburgh with his wife, claimed: “The Scottish Government is pursuing another incomprehensible vendetta against me, and many honest people like me.”

He added: “If the Scottish Government is serious about sorting the housing crisis, perhaps it should start with building more affordable homes rather than scapegoating ordinary people, who themselves are on the brink.

“Humza Yousaf must pause the legislation, and fast, before more people are affected by this totally unacceptable, unworkable and unnecessary legislation.”

With the licensing schemes to be oeprated by local councils, David Weston, the chairman of the Scottish B&B Association, said this would result in “32 different, inconsistent, onerous and in some cases, actually illegal schemes”.

Stressing that bed and breakfast properties already comply with health and safety regulations, he added that the licensing scheme would “put a totally unnecessary layer of costs and burdens on small B&Bs across Scotland”.

READ MORE: Third of MSPs backing short-term let scheme delay have links to sector

Weston said: “A delay of at least a year, and a thorough reform of these misconceived and damaging regulations, is needed.”

Housing Minister Paul McLennan said: “Short-term lets are important for Scotland’s economy and tourism industry, which continues to grow.

“The introduction of licensing therefore safeguards that significant role by providing assurance to guests on the safety and quality of lets, such as gas certificate compliance and suitable electrical equipment.

“We have listened and continue to listen carefully to feedback and to respond constructively. The one-off six-month extension already granted means hosts have had 20 months to complete an application. No operator to date has been refused a licence, among the thousands that have already applied.

“The responsible and balanced course of action is for everyone to get behind the task of encouraging and supporting short term let operators to apply for a licence before the 1 October deadline.”