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Councillor hits out at criticism of 'important' new short let rules

By Alan Beresford

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A BUCKIE councillor has hit back at criticisms of proposed Scottish Government legislation regarding short term lets.

Councillor Sonya Warren: Safety "at the heart" of new proposed legislation. Picture: Daniel Forsyth
Councillor Sonya Warren: Safety "at the heart" of new proposed legislation. Picture: Daniel Forsyth

These plans include a requirement for landlords, B&B owners, and self-caterers to secure planning permission and obtain a licence or face fines of up to £50,000.

The new rules came under fire from Moray Tory MP Douglas Ross, who said they were aimed at the AirBnB boom in Edinburgh and would unduly penalise B&B and self-catering owners in Moray.

However, Councillor Sonya Warren (Buckie – SNP) said that the measures were both common sense and flexible.

She said: "The only aspect of the proposals that applies to all short-term lets across Scotland relates to basic safety.

"At the heart of the licensing scheme are a mandatory set of safety standards. Safety matters, whether someone is sharing their own home or letting a portfolio of properties, be that in Moray or in central Edinburgh. Many hosts will already be following the standards set out in the licensing scheme as a matter of compliance with existing law or best practice.

"Local authorities have wide discretion over other features, such as whether to set any additional conditions, what fees to charge and how long licences last. They will have discretion to add further conditions to address local needs and concerns.

"The proposals give councils flexibility and autonomy on what, if anything, is needed to supplement the basic safety standards and they can nuance any further conditions by area or premises. Local authorities in areas where there are no complaints about short-term lets may wish only to require hosts to comply with the basic safety requirements.

"The licensing order allows the initial licence to be granted for a period of up to three years. Subsequently, the renewal period is not constrained, so local authorities can choose to set as long a renewal period as they like; they might choose to set a long renewal period for premises where no issues or problems have arisen

"In addition to the licensing scheme, local authorities will also be empowered to implement short-term let control areas, entirely at their discretion, in order to address pressures created by secondary short-term letting."

Councillor Warren went on to say that regulation of short-term lets has an important role to play in supporting a strong recovery of responsible and sustainable tourism in Scotland. as part of this, the Scottish Government is establishing a stakeholder working group to develop guidance on the licensing scheme and control areas that is clear, comprehensive and easy to understand.

The working group will look at how to make the process of applying for a licence and operating within the terms of the scheme as simple and streamlined as possible. Self-caterers, B&B operators and rural interests are represented on the stakeholder working group.

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