Short-term lets: what you need to know about temporary licences and exemptions

Short-term lets: what you need to know about temporary licences and exemptions

Temporary licences and exemptions

The introduction of the short-term let legislation made a significant change as to how short-term lets operate in Scotland.

Hosts are now obligated to have a licence to operate and must abide to the mandatory conditions imposed by the local authorities. The legislation ensures the safety of the guests, and also protects the owners against various issues. There are different licences that the hosts can apply for such as a full licence, a temporary licence or a temporary exemption.

What is a short-term let?

A short-term let is defined in the Licensing Act, under Article 3 of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 (Licensing of Short-term Lets) Order 2022 as the use of residential accommodation provided by the host in the course of business to a guest, where:

  1. the guest does not use the accommodation as their only or principal home,
  2. the short-term let is entered into for commercial consideration,
  3. the guest is not
  • an immediate family member of the host,
  • sharing the accommodation for the purpose of advancing the guest’s education,
  • an owner or part-owner of the accommodation,
  • the accommodation is not provided for the principal purpose of facilitating the provision of work or services by the guest to the host or to another member of the host’s household
  • the accommodation is not an excluded accommodation (for excluded accommodation, please see Blog (add link)
  • the short term let does not constitute an excluded tenancy (add tenancy).

Types of short-term lets

Briefly, there are four types of short-term lets:

  1. Home sharing, were you rent out all or part of your own home while you are living there
  2. Home letting means letting all or part of your own home while you’re not there (i.e. while you are on holiday)
  3. Secondary letting, letting your property where you do not normally live
  4. Home letting and home sharing, where you let out all or part of your own home both while you are living there and also at times when you’re not there

When do you need a licence?

Anyone who wishes to offer accommodation as a short-term let must get a licence from the relevant local authority, unless the accommodation is excluded by law. New hosts/operators need a licence before they can start operating. Existing hosts can advertise but they cannot take bookings or any deposits. It is important to note that anyone who might operate without having a licence could be committing an offence and could be fined by up to £2,500.

Hosts can apply for a full licence and local authorities have around nine months to decide on the application. However, hosts might consider applying for a temporary licence at the same time as the full licence. This will ensure that your temporary licence remains valid until the full licence is granted.

What is a temporary licence?

A temporary licence requires the host to apply in the same way as the full licence and it needs to be granted by the relevant local authority. It allows you to operate for a period of up to six weeks and a temporary licence number is given to you once the temporary licence is granted. It’s important to note that if you have applied for a full and temporary licence at the same time, then your temporary will be valid until the time your full licence is granted. It is good practice for hosts who wish to continue to operate beyond the six weeks to make both applications simultaneously.

Local authorities have a discretion as to the granting of the licence application and it is necessary to comply with all mandatory conditions.

Temporary exemption

A temporary exemption gives the ability to take bookings and accept guests in your property without having a licence in place. This can be during special events, i.e. festival periods or major sporting events. Local authorities may grant a temporary exemption for a fixed period of time which allows to operate without having a licence. However, it should be noted that temporary exemptions are not automatically granted, and local authorities can attach conditions to award the exemption. Additionally, hosts need to ensure that all the basic standards are met, that they are fit and proper to hold a licence and a fee is paid to the relevant local authority.

What you need to supply?

Hosts need to submit the applications along with the relevant certificates/documents. The same certificates are required to be submitted for all licence applications. Hosts must ensure to check with their local authority if anything additional is required to be submitted with the application.

The standard certificates/ documents are:

  • 1 x A4 size copy of the floor plans of the property – required for new, temporary and any subsequent renewal application
  • Annual gas certificate – for properties with a gas supply
  • Annual Portable Appliance Test (PAT) certificate
  • A fully completed fire safety checklist – required for all new, temporary and any subsequent renewal application
  • Current Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR)
  • Planning permission information for secondary letting only

Conditions attached to the licence?

The standard mandatory conditions apply to all licences, whether full, temporary or exemptions. The applicant needs to be aware of the all the mandatory conditions and regularly check the relevant local authority’s website to keep up to date with any changes that might be introduced. Importantly, local authorities can impose additional conditions when granting the licence.

Your exemption is not guaranteed but even when this exemption is granted, it is temporary, and it does not affect the way rules apply. The short-term accommodations still must adhere to the standard regulations.

If you are thinking of applying for a short-term let licence or need advice on applying, please contact our Licensing team, or view our services here.

Karen Gatherum
Senior Solicitor



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