THE Scottish Government has been warned that planned changes to the rules which regulate holiday lets could open loopholes for landlords.

The Scottish Greens have voiced concern over proposed changes to the short-term licencing regulations unveiled by the Government.

Under the new scheme, landlords – who the Scottish Government said had been consulted extensively – would be able to transfer their short-term let licence on a property to its new owner after it is sold.

Former tenants rights minister Patrick Harvie said: “We need to ensure that our system of short-term lets works for communities, and we would be concerned about any regulations that could allow landlords to effectively sell on their licence irrespective of who the buyer is.

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“With the new licensing system, I am glad that Scotland is finally making progress on regulating short-term lets and holiday homes. We will work positively and constructively to make it the best and most robust system it can be.”

He said the Scottish Government must “address problems in the system rather than creating new ones”.

The proposed changes have also infuriated businesspeople operating holiday homes – who said they fell “way short of what is required to help existing self-catering owners survive and thrive”.

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Fiona Campbell (above), CEO of the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers, has demanded a meeting with Deputy First Minister Kate Forbes to discuss short-term let licencing and said the changes should be pulled until the SNP have “fully engaged with industry on this matter”.

She added: “Pushing up the cost of holidaying in Scotland, squeezing the supply of accommodation for our world-leading festivals and other major events, burdening resource-stretched local councils and hammering small and micro businesses surely cannot have been the policy intention of short-term let licensing but that’s what is playing out on the ground. 

“Disturbingly, there’s now evidence of a burgeoning black market.

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“There has to be real, tangible change otherwise more small indigenous Scottish businesses will close, it is as simple as that.”

Other changes include allowing those who are building new holiday homes to apply for a “provisional licence” before construction is complete and allowing three licence exemptions, of up to six weeks, every year.

Short-term let licences were introduced to curb the proliferation of holiday homes across Scotland – especially concentrated in Edinburgh and the Highlands.

They have grown in part due to the popularity of platforms like Airbnb. Proponents say they provide customers with accommodation often in more desirable locations than hotels at cheaper rates.

But critics say they empty out neighbourhoods because landlords can make more money renting to tourists and can be magnets for antisocial behaviour.

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Housing Minister Paul McLennan (above) said that “safeguards are in place to ensure that a transfer of a short-term let licence is only made to an appropriate person”.

He added: “The licensing authority will share transfer applications with the Chief Constable, who can make objections or representations to the licensing authority.

“This means that accommodation bookings can be protected when the ownership of a property changes, and the licensing scheme continues to deliver quality and safety assurance for guests.

“The proposed amendment recognises the important role short-term lets have as part of the tourist sector in Scotland, and the importance of licensing to ensure consistent compliance with safety standards and public scrutiny of applications.”