Scottish Airbnb crackdown based on ‘lies and nonsense’, industry executives say
A new Airbnb-style short-term rental owner licensing system is based on “lies and nonsense” and risks putting small businesses in the red, industry executives say.
SNP ministers were forced to delay final crackdown plans after officials were inundated with more than 1,000 responses to a consultation, some of which questioned “the competence of the law”.
Despite the new deadline, councils will still have until October 2022 to implement a licensing regime.
Existing hosts and operators must have applied for a license by April 2023 or face hefty fines – while all short-term rentals must be authorized by April 2024. Under the plans, owners would also be required to renew licenses every three years.
Fiona Campbell, chief executive of the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers (ASSC), said businesses registered with Visit Scotland that already adhere to strict health and safety requirements should be exempt from the regulations.
READ MORE: Scottish government forced to delay latest Airbnb crackdown plans amid jurisdiction claims
She says local authority policies already exist to deal with noise nuisance complaints while the cost will place a heavy burden on small businesses trying to recover from heavy pandemic losses and says the government is not consistent in its rationale. of the introduction of the program.
“The Scottish government is backing this up with lies and nonsense and that is not enough when we are talking about tiny micro businesses,” she said.
“Clearly, we have always said that all accommodation should be safe for customers.
“What we’ve been telling Airbnb for years is that they just need to communicate with hosts about existing health and safety legislation. If they had done so in 2016, we wouldn’t be not there now.
“In 2017, I actively called on the Scottish government to introduce a registration system with mandatory health and safety conditions and licenses in areas where there is a demonstrable link between short-term rentals and pressure housing.
“They didn’t and what’s frustrating is they now say it’s a health and safety issue.
“Whenever we tell them that we already comply with health and safety regulations, they say it’s about affordable housing and the housing crisis.
“They say it’s going to cost around £ 300, but the Bar and local authority lawyers have told them it will cost over £ 1,500 to £ 2,000. That’s more than a hotel pays for their license.”
READ MORE: Planning consent offer to stop the rise in Highland Airbnb style rentals
Ms Campbell says the program could potentially allow a complaint from a neighbor to affect a license application and said she herself had faced opposition from neighbors after starting a short-lived rental business. term with her husband Ali in a family chalet in Arrochar in 2017. She operated another catering business for 19 years.
“They are neighbors against bona fide companies,” she said.
“They talk about trying to protect the cohesion of the community, but in fact, what it’s going to do makes it completely divisive.
READ MORE: Short-term rentals in Edinburgh could be banned in rental apartments
“It gives all the power to the neighbor and all these little businesses up and down the country are going to shut down. And every three years you’re going to panic that you don’t have it.”
She says the government is using “misleading” Airbnb ad figures to justify the program, as owners can advertise single rooms.
The ASSC chief says the new program is legally incompetent in six different areas and says it also discriminates against women as the vast majority are run by women who can tailor businesses to family commitments.
“Right now they exempt hotels, licensed trailer parks, serviced accommodation and things like boats. If it’s health and safety, why don’t you allow them all.
“If you are a bona fide company at non-national rates and already comply with all health and safety regulations, you would be registered with Visit Scotland and should be exempt.
“If it comes to health and safety, they can introduce legislation for occasional guests.
“If it is anti-social behavior, there is existing legislation for it, so use it and if it is housing, they already have the legislation to deal with it.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: ‘Registration does not offer the same protections to guests, neighbors and local communities as licenses, and our proposals ensure that all short-term rentals across Scotland adhere to a common set of safety standards.
“Average indicative fees are estimated to be between £ 223 and £ 377 to cover a three-year license. License fees have not yet been set, and the actual fee levels are the responsibility of local authorities.
“We are currently carefully reviewing the responses to our consultation on the Bill and the BRIA, and intend to table licensing legislation in the Scottish Parliament in November.
“We are committed to ensuring that this important legislation is absolutely correct and to monitoring its implementation. ”