As of October 1, 2023, if your Edinburgh property is used for short-term or holiday lets, new legislation states you’ll now need a licence to operate - and in most cases planning permission for change of use too.
Edinburgh City Council’s new licensing scheme follows a Scottish Parliament act requiring local authorities to regulate short-term lets. A legal challenge to Edinburgh’s scheme was upheld in June but only certain parts were found to be unlawful by the Judicial Review and these have now been amended.
The court's decision on the licensing policy means there is now no presumption that properties in tenement blocks are unsuitable as short-term lets. However, the requirement for planning permission means they are still unlikely to be granted a licence.
The city of Edinburgh has up to 10,000 properties currently used as Airbnbs and short-term lets but unless they have been granted a licence, or an application has been submitted, this activity should have ceased by 1 October.
Those who have been letting their properties for 10 years or more do not have to apply for planning permission for change of use as long as they have proof that the property has been used in this way, but the licensing process is still arduous and lengthy.
Here’s what the short-term let guidance states: As of 1 October 2023, all operators of short-term lets in Edinburgh must apply for a licence. Those who have previously been providing short-term lets need to prove their usage during that time. New hosts and operators who have not provided short-term lets before this date cannot take bookings or receive guests until they obtain a licence. There are four types of licence available depending on the type of accommodation being offered. Planning permission may be required in addition to a short-term let licence for properties that are not the main home of the host. It is important to check with the Scottish Government for detailed information on the regulation of short-term lets in Edinburgh.
Understanding the New Short-Term Let Licencing Rules
Edinburgh’s new licencing rules for short-term lets aim to regulate and manage the increasingly popular sector and tackle issues around noise and anti-social behaviour, especially in blocks with communal entrances, hallways and stairwells. In these type of buildings, the local authority wants to protect residents from the negative impact of short-term lets on their homes.
It is crucial operators in Edinburgh understand these new rules to ensure compliance and avoid penalties. The Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 (Licencing of Short Term Lets) Order 2022 provides the framework for these regulations.
The first step in understanding the new short-term let licencing rules is familiarising yourself with the different types of licences available. There are four categories:
- Secondary letting - letting a property where you do not normally live. For example, a second home that is let to guests.
- Home letting - using all or part of your own home for short-term lets, while you are absent.
- Home sharing - using all or part of your own home for short-term lets, while you are there.
- Home letting and home sharing - using all or part of your own home for short-term lets, while you are living there and for periods when you are absent.
Each category pertains to specific types of accommodation arrangements, such as renting out an entire property or sharing parts of your own home.
In addition to understanding the licence categories, it's important to be aware of any additional requirements for operating a short-term let business. Depending on the nature of your property and usage, you may need to obtain planning permission in addition to a short-term let licence. This is especially relevant if your property is a whole dwelling that is not your main residence.
For existing operators who were already offering short-term lets before 1 October 1 2022, they were obliged under the new guidelines to submit a licence application before 1 October, 2023. Proof of usage during that period had to be provided when applying. This allowed existing operators to continue letting their property while their licence application is being considered.
If you are a new operator who has not provided short-term lets before 1 October 2022, you cannot take bookings or receive guests without first obtaining a licence. Therefore, it's important to apply for a licence before engaging in any short-term let activities. All hosts and operators need to have a licence by 1 January 2025.
Eligibility for the Short-Term Let Licence
To be eligible for a short-term let licence in Edinburgh, certain criteria must be met. These criteria are put in place to ensure responsible and sustainable operation of short-term let accommodations within the city.
Firstly, operators must carefully review their compliance with the mandatory conditions outlined by the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 (Licencing of Short term Lets) Order 2022. These conditions are attached to all short-term let licences and cover aspects such as health and safety requirements, waste management, and nuisance prevention measures. Local authorities also have the authority to attach additional conditions if necessary.
In addition to meeting the mandatory conditions, operators need to complete the application process with thoroughness and accuracy. The required documentation includes an A4 size copy of the property's floor plans, an annual gas certificate (if applicable), an annual Portable Appliance Test (PAT) certificate, a fully completed fire safety checklist, a current Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR), and planning permission information if required.
Short term let application fees
It's important to keep in mind that application fees vary based on the type and category of licence you are applying for. Non-refundable application fees should be thoroughly checked before submission. However, if there are exceptional circumstances that warrant a refund request, it is possible to make a written request to the licensing manager at email@example.com.
Remember to consult the register of applications regularly to track your licence status. This register provides valuable information on current licences and ongoing applications within Edinburgh. Fees vary from as little as £120 to £5,869 depending on the number of occupants and whether the let is temporary.
Licencing Deadlines and Applications
To ensure compliance with the new short-term let licencing rules in Edinburgh, it is crucial to be aware of the specific deadlines and procedures for submitting your licence application. The deadline for existing operators of short-term lets to submit their applications has now passed (1 October 2023). If you have submitted your application, you may continue operating while your application is being considered. This allows ample time for the council to review and process the applications.
Short-term let licence application requirements for new operators in Edinburgh
If you are a new operator who was not utilising your premises for short-term lets prior to 1 October 2022, it's important to note that you cannot take bookings or receive guests until you have obtained a valid licence. This restriction is in place to ensure all new operators adhere to the licensing regulations from the outset.
Regardless of whether you are an existing or new operator, it is mandatory for all operators to have a licence by 1 January 2025.
What the short-term licence application process involves
The licence application process itself entails providing detailed information about your property and its intended use for short-term letting. You will need to fill out forms covering various aspects such as property ownership, proof of identification, safety measures at the property and proposed occupancy limits. It is important to ensure accuracy and completeness when completing these forms as any missing or incorrect information may delay the processing of your application.
It is crucial to familiarise yourself with all the requirements before submitting your application to ensure it meets the necessary criteria. This will help you avoid unnecessary delays or complications during the licensing process. Additionally, note that planning permission may be required in addition to a short-term let licence if your property is a whole dwelling that is not your main home.
Edinburgh's Short-Term Let Licencing Criteria
The City of Edinburgh Council has established comprehensive licencing criteria that need to be met in order to obtain a short-term let licence. These criteria are designed to ensure the safety, quality, and appropriate management of short-term let accommodations within the city.
One of the key criteria relates to the type of licence required based on how you plan to operate your short-term let. These are four categories referenced earlier in this article: 1. Secondary letting; 2. Home letting; 3. Home sharing and 4. Home letting and home sharing (operating short-term lets from your own home in part while you are living there and for periods when you are absent).
Each category has specific conditions and requirements that must be met. For example, if you opt for home sharing, you will need to specify how often and for what durations you intend to offer your home for short-term lets while you are present. On the other hand, secondary letting requires demonstrating that the property is not your main residence.
Noise control measures in short-term let licensing criteria
The licencing criteria also encompass factors such as noise control measures, waste management plans, insurance coverage, and ensuring adequate fire safety precautions are in place. It is essential to thoroughly review these requirements before applying for a licence to ensure that you are fully prepared.
By understanding and complying with Edinburgh's short-term let licencing criteria, you will have confidence your accommodation meets the necessary standards and regulations. This not only enhances the overall experience for guests but also contributes to the sustainable and responsible growth of the short-term let industry in Edinburgh.
Identifying Exemptions and Permissions
Before delving into the process of acquiring a short-term let licence in Edinburgh, it's crucial to understand the various exemptions and permissions available under the new regulations. These exemptions may relieve certain operators from the need to obtain a licence for their short-term let accommodation.
One common exemption is for those who only rent out their property for a few days a year, such as during major events like the Edinburgh Fringe festival. While these hosts still need to adhere to safety and insurance standards, they may not require a full licence if they fall within the permitted number of rental days.
Another exemption applies to individuals who solely rent out a room in their primary residence while they continue to reside there. This falls under the ‘home sharing’ category and typically allows hosts to operate without needing a full licence.
It's worth noting that even though an exemption might apply, hosts are still required to comply with other regulations, such as health and safety standards, regardless of whether they have obtained a licence or not.
Identifying the right exemption or permission for your specific circumstances is critical before embarking on the journey of obtaining a short-term let licence. Understanding these options can help you navigate through the licencing process more effectively.
The Journey to Acquiring a Short-Term Let Licence in Edinburgh
Now that you are familiar with exemptions and permissions, let's explore the journey involved in obtaining a short-term let licence in Edinburgh. It is essential to follow each step carefully to ensure compliance with the city's regulations.
- Determine eligibility: Firstly, identify if your particular circumstance requires you to obtain a licence. If you meet the criteria outlined by the regulations, proceed accordingly.
- Prepare documentation: Gather all necessary documents required for your licence application. These may include proof of ownership or tenancy, insurance details, floor plans, and certificates confirming compliance with safety measures.
- Submit application: Complete the licence application form, ensuring you provide accurate and up-to-date information. Be prepared to pay the necessary fees associated with your application as these are typically non-refundable.
- Await processing: After submitting your application, it will undergo a review by the relevant authorities. The process may take some time.
- Comply with additional requirements: Depending on the nature of your short-term let accommodation, you may need to obtain planning permission if it is not your primary residence or if the property is classified as a whole dwelling. It's crucial to adhere to these requirements alongside the licensing process. Planning permission applications currently take 4-6 months to be processed.
- Licence acquisition: Once your application has been reviewed and approved, you will receive your short-term let licence. This document enables you to legally operate your accommodation.
- Ongoing compliance: As a licenced host or operator, it is essential to continue complying with all applicable regulations and safety standards throughout the duration of your operation.
Remember that these steps serve as a general guide and may vary based on individual circumstances and changes in regulations over time.
Following The Process
All applications for a short-term let licence must be made online - paper applications are not accepted. You’ll need to follow the instructions on the website with care.
The benefits of switching from short-term to long-term letting
While the allure of short-term letting has often centred around potential higher revenue and flexibility, the new licencing rules pose challenges and uncertainties. In Edinburgh, the new restrictions have prompted many property owners to shift towards long-term letting as a more stable and less complicated option. Long-term letting offers a consistent income, and less frequent turnovers, which often translates to reduced wear and tear on the property.
With the city’s current sky-high housing demand, there's a substantial market for long-term rentals. Tenants are more likely to take care of a long-term let property, treating it as their own home.
Making such a switch, however, requires a different approach and an expert understanding of the market. This is where Clan Gordon can be an invaluable partner. With our expertise in Edinburgh's letting market, Clan Gordon offers comprehensive support to those transitioning from short to long-term letting. From market analysis, pricing recommendations, and tenant vetting, to ongoing property management and ensuring compliance with all long-term rental regulations, our team can ensure a seamless transition and peace of mind for property owners.
If you're contemplating this shift, we can help you navigate this process with ease.
For advice and guidance about switching from short to long-term letting, talk to the experts at Clan Gordon. Call 0131 555 4444 or click here to schedule a chat to discuss any questions you may have.