Many holiday-let hosts in Edinburgh had expected a delay to Short-Term Let (STL) Licensing in the city, considering the outcome of a Judicial Review of the scheme in the summer, which found the scheme to be unlawful. However, rather than finding the entire scheme unlawful, the court only found certain parts to be, so these have now been updated and Licensing for existing hosts will go ahead from 1st October 2023, as planned.
Tenement / shared main door accommodation
The initial Licensing scheme set out that there was a rebuttable presumption (a legal principle that presumes something to be true unless proven otherwise) against granting STL licenses for properties to be used for secondary lettings (i.e not the hosts own home) within tenament/shared stairwells. Applicants would have had to provide information as to why their application should be an exception to the policy. However, following on from the Court’s decision, this rebuttable presumption has been removed so the council will consider applications in line with this change and applicants won’t need to provide additional information to demonstrate why they should be an exception. This is the same for temporary licenses.
Planning permission still stands in the way of hosts gaining a license
While the change to licensing sounds like a lifeline for hosts with properties within shared staircases, it’s important to remember that only properties with planning permission can be awarded a license and, as it stands, planning permission is unlikely to be granted for properties within shared staircases, unless in specific circumstances. The Judicial Review team who petitioned against Edinburgh Council’s STL licensing scheme has now instructed a Judicial Review of the Council’s planning policy; focusing on the retrospectivity of applying planning policies and are hopeful of an outcome that will enable properties within shared staircases to be granted planning permission.
The original scheme stated that, for secondary lets, the license holder must ensure that bedrooms, living rooms and hallways required suitable floor coverings such as carpet or similar, however this has also been removed and if the council determines that a carpet, or similar is required, this will be so on a case by case basis.
Rather than a delay, the clock is most certainly ticking towards the deadline for existing hosts to apply for their STL License with the deadline for applications from existing hosts, 1st October 2023. According to Association of Scotland’s Self Caterers (ASSC), 61% of their members still have not started the license process and as of early August while only 111 licenses have been approved against an estimated 4,000 AirBnBs in Edinburgh. So, it’s decision time for many hosts who either proceed with a costly STL License application, without certainty of whether their license is likely to be approved, or consider their alternative options. If you have a short term let property and would like to discuss your options, just contact our experienced team at [email protected] or by phoning 0131 221 8289.