Airbnb hosts ‘baffled’ by proposed licensing regime

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Airbnb hosts are “baffled” by the Scottish government’s plans for a licensing program for their properties, the company told MSPs.

Groups representing short-term rental owners testified before a Holyrood committee on Tuesday, with one saying the plans would be “extremely damaging” to the Scottish economy.

According to plans, all short-term leased properties will need to be licensed by the boards by 2024.

Ministers had hoped to introduce legislation to tackle the growth in short-term rentals ahead of the Scottish Parliament elections in May. However, it was delayed following a backlash from some PSMs.

Those who testified on Tuesday raised concerns about the cost of acquiring licenses.

Amanda Cupples, Airbnb’s Managing Director for Northern Europe, was among those who spoke to the Holyrood Local Government Committee.

She said a survey of hosts found 51% said they would stop renting their property if the regulations were introduced.

“I am constantly in dialogue with the host community in Scotland … I think the general mood is really puzzling.

“It is the cost that emerges as one of the main concerns.”

She said Airbnb hosting contributed £ 677million of gross added value to the Scottish economy in 2019, while supporting around 33,500 jobs.

Short-term accommodation can provide a “flexible and scalable solution” when cities host major events, she said.

Fiona Campbell, Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers, spoke of the impact of the pandemic, saying: “We haven’t even gotten out of survival mode, realistically we need to be able to recover.

“Unfortunately this licensing legislation is going to be extremely damaging to the Scottish economy.”

Campbell said the cost of the licenses was unclear, suggesting it could reach £ 1,500.

She raised other concerns about the licensing regime, saying, “What if a vexatious neighbor complains about the activity?

“We have one, I’ve been through this – he assaulted me in 2018 because we operate an independent property near his home despite the fact that he has never had any problems with this business. “

David Weston of the Scottish Bed and Breakfast Association said he was “surprised” that B & Bs had been included in the legislation.

“Everyone seems to agree, traditional guest houses are not the source of many of the problems that this legislation seeks to resolve. “

Shomik Panda, UK Short Term Accommodation Association, called for lighter regulation.

In written evidence he said: “We are convinced that the current legislation would be disastrous for the sector and for local economies from top to bottom in Scotland.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson responded: ‘Short-term rentals can give people a flexible travel option, but we know that in some areas, especially tourist hot spots, a high number of rentals can cause problems. neighbors and make it more difficult for people to find accommodation. live in.

“The licensing regime and the Zone of Control legislation give councils the power to act where they need to be.

“We appreciate the contribution of tourism organizations, local government, community organizations and others to reach this point, and we look forward to delivering a short term rental license program that works for Scotland. “

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