TORY and Labour MSPs have asked the Lord Advocate to investigate if short-term lets licensing breaches human rights laws in a last-ditch attempt ahead of the scheme deadline.

It will be a criminal offence to let either a room in a home or an entire property after October 1 without a license, with operators already given a six-month extension to the deadline.

With just over a week to go, SNP MSP Fergus Ewing joined Holyrood parliamentarians from the Scottish Tories, Scottish Labour and Scottish LibDems calling for an intervention from Scotland’s top law officer.

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It comes after the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers (ASSC) claimed the regulations may be in breach of privacy and protection legislation in a letter to Humza Yousaf.

They alleged the requirement for hosts to publicly disclose their personal data on application notices and council licensing registers may be in contravention of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the Scotland Act 1998, as well as General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act.

The ASSC’s CEO, Fiona Campbell, has previously claimed that the scheme is sexist.

Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain KC and Scottish Government Permanent Secretary John-Paul Marks have now been asked to intervene by five MSPs, all of whom signed a letter calling for the First Minister to pause the scheme last month.

The National: Fergus Ewing

The letter is signed by SNP rebel Ewing (above), Labour’s Daniel Johnston, LibDem Willie Rennie and Scottish Tory MSPs Miles Briggs and Murdo Fraser.

We previously told how a third of those MSPs who signed the letter to Humza Yousaf had relevant interests in the sector, including Ewing and Fraser, both of whom are landlords.

The letter states: “We ask that you pause the rollout and encourage the relevant changes to be made, to provide certainty that business owners require to sustain and grow and continue to make a substantial contribution to Scotland’s economy and long-term prosperity.”

It also said hosts must be provided with “full certainty that the scheme is lawful”.

The Scottish Government previously said it has conducted impact assessments on issues such as data protection.

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The FM, Wellbeing Economy Secretary Neil Gray and Housing Minister Paul McLennan have all insisted that the Scottish Government will not back down and pause the scheme.

The ASSC said 53% of operators have said they plan to remain open following its rollout, but McLennan told The National’s Holyrood Weekly podcast that the figures should be taken with caution as the ASSC does not represent everyone operating in the industry.

In supporting the letter, Ewing said: “If this isn’t suspended now, the huge blunder of these regulations will need to be unpicked later on, which is an infinitely more painful task.”

Ewing is reportedly facing disciplinary action after voting against the Scottish Government before recess and joined the Tories, Labour and LibDems in voting against the scheme last week when a vote was brought before Holyrood, which ultimately failed. 

The National: Douglas Ross

The Scottish Government has been approached for comment.

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.