The Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 was approved and passed as law on 25 July this year. One purpose of this Act was to combat the detrimental impact which the rapid growth in short term lets on platforms such as AirBnB has had on housing supply, rent levels and the increasing number of complaints received by local authorities from neighbours of properties used for short term lets.
Short term let control areas
Section 17 of the Act gives planning authorities the power to designate all or part of its local authority areas as “short term let control areas”. In a short-term let control area, the use of a dwelling house for the purpose of providing short term lets will be deemed to involve a material change of use of the dwelling house. This means that an owner would need to submit a change of use planning application for specific use of their property as a short term let before marketing their property as such on platforms such as Airbnb.
The Act does not define what constitutes a short term let, but private residential tenancies under Section 1 of the Private Housing (Tenancies)(Scotland) Act 2016, and tenancies where all or part of the dwelling house which is the only or principal home of the landlord or occupier, are excluded.
Local authority discretion
Each local authority has discretion around the extent of any short term let control areas within their jurisdiction. This flexibility afforded by the Act solves the problem highlighted by Airbnb that applying the same restrictions to rural Scotland as the centre of Edinburgh would harm people living in these areas.
Local Authorities also have the ability to make further provisions by way of regulations. Glasgow City Council introduced regulations in March 2017, before the passing of the Act, and it is expected that other local authorities will follow suit in due course.
Things to consider
If you are considering renting out an existing property, or are considering purchasing a property, for short term lets, then it is advisable to contact your local authority to determine whether that property is, or is likely to be in the future, in a short term let control area. They will be able to provide you with area specific advice and information around what is required of you.
Similarly, if you have any queries or complaints about a property which is already being used as a short term let near you, then the local authority will be able to provide you with advice and assistance.
Nicola McCafferty is a specialist commercial property solicitor. We are always delighted to talk without obligation about whether we might meet your needs. Call Nicola on 01382 229111 or email firstname.lastname@example.org should you require any assistance or have any queries regarding any of the issues raised above.