Short-term lets licensing scheme in Scotland: Staying compliant – what are the consequences of getting it wrong?

As Scotland’s short-term let licensing scheme comes into force, hosts must navigate a complex series of conditions and rules to continue operating their business. Our previous articles have explained who needs to apply for a licence, the conditions that must be met, and the temporary measures available. It will be important for hosts to understand the consequences of failing to comply with any of the rules we have explored. This article explains the consequences of getting it wrong. 

11th October 2022

What happens if I don’t apply for a short-term let licence?

It is a criminal offence to operate a short-term let without a licence where required. Our first article explains when you will need to have a licence in place (for new hosts this is 1 October 2022), but by July 2024 it will be essential for all hosts to have a licence in place to avoid potential criminal consequences.

What happens if I breach the conditions of my short-term let licence?

As the second article in our series explains, you must comply with the mandatory and additional conditions that your local authority attaches to your licence. You are responsible for ensuring that your property complies with these conditions during the course of your licence.

If you do not meet these conditions before applying for your licence your application will be refused. However, even after your licence is granted, you will need to ensure your property is maintained at the required standard and complete certain annual safety checks. You are responsible for ensuring your property complies with the up-to-date standards or taking the property out of service until you have repaired it.

Can the Council inspect my short-term let?

Your local authority may visit your property to follow up on complaints and previous visits or as part of a routine pattern of inspection. Although your local authority must give notice ahead of routine visits, it is entitled to make unannounced inspections at any time to ensure you are adhering to your licensing conditions.

Can the Council force me to make changes to my property?

If upon inspection your property is in breach of your licence conditions, the local authority can serve an enforcement notice on you. These notices will give you a deadline to bring your property up to the required standard or your licence may be varied, suspended or revoked.

Can my short-term let licence be suspended or revoked?

Although this will generally only happen once all other enforcement options have been exhausted, the local authority has the power to suspend or revoke your short-term let licence. These steps may be taken if you have been given time to put things right but have failed to do so or if your guests are at risk of serious harm. Your licence may be suspended while the local authority considers a revocation. If your licence is revoked, you will be unable to make a further application in respect of your property for 12 months.

Do I need to renew my short-term let licence?

A licence may be granted for a period of up to 3 years. If you wish to continue operating your short-term let you must apply to renew your licence before it expires. It is an offence to continue operating your short-term let where your licence has lapsed, and you have failed to renew it.

Do I need to tell the local authority of changes to the property?

It is important to be aware that you must continue to update the relevant local authority where your circumstances change. If you make physical alterations to your property, increase your number of guests or rooms, or change your property management company you must notify the relevant local authority as soon as possible. In some cases, you may also require to seek the local authorities’ consent before making the change. You will commit an offence if you fail to notify the local authority or fail to seek their approval where you require it.

Failing to get things right with your short-term let licence can have potentially significant consequences – both financial and reputational – to you and your short-term let business. Ensuring compliance with the new rules will be key. The introduction of the licensing scheme presents changes and potential difficulties for your business which you will want to manage appropriately.  

Our licensing team has been advising clients throughout the consultation process for the new short-term let rules. If you wish to discuss how these new regulations will affect you, please get in touch with our specialist licensing team, who are more than happy to assist.