Airbnb Rules in Scotland—a Guide for Hosts

airbnb rules in Scotland

By The Hospitable Team

If you are considering starting an Airbnb in Scotland to earn extra income, it’s important to consider legal issues first. The Scottish Government has implemented new STR rules that require all hosts to obtain a short-term let license before accepting bookings or welcoming guests.

To help you navigate the licensing scheme, in this blog post, we cover everything you need to know about Airbnb rules in Scotland. We’ll also explain what conditions you need to meet and how to apply for a local license for your property. 

Airbnb Regulations in Scotland

Hosting on Airbnb offers you more flexibility than traditional renting and can be a profitable side hustle or even become your full-time job. And if you invest in vacation rental software like Hospitable, you can manage your property with minimal effort.

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Becoming a host also involves navigating local laws and regulations related to short-term rentals. So before you take a plunge, you should be aware of the Airbnb rules in Scotland and STR laws in your city and follow them.

In 2022, Scotland introduced significant changes to the legal framework governing short-term rentals. As part of the new regulations, it is now mandatory for all short-term rental hosts across Scotland to obtain a license before they offer their properties on sites like Airbnb. Keep in mind that you must display your license number on all your listings on OTAs platforms and your own direct booking website.

Hosts need to apply for a license with their local council, and each of their properties may need a separate license even if they are all located in the same council area. Operating an Airbnb without a short-term let license is a criminal offense. You could get a fine of £2,500 and be banned from applying for a license for a year. You would not be able to rent out your property during this period.

Each local council has its short-term let policy that sets out the mandatory conditions a property must meet and additional conditions for the council area. Local authorities also have the power to designate control areas to manage the number of short-term rental properties.

Currently, two councils have short-term let control areas in place:

  • The City of Edinburgh Council has a control area covering the whole council area
  • Highland Council has a control area covering Badenoch and Strathspey.

If your property is located within a control area, you will need planning permission to change the use of a dwelling house.

Airbnb Rules in Scotland: What Types of Accommodation Need a License?

The licensing scheme applies to residential and commercial accommodations in Scotland, including B&B and guesthouses, cabins, castles, chalets, cottages, boats, farmhouses, self-catering accommodation, yurts, treehouses, etc. You’ll also need a license to offer a private room in your home.

There are four types of short-term let license

  • Home letting—renting out all or part of your own home while you’re not there, for example, while you’re on vacation;
  • Home sharing—renting out part of your primary residence while you’re staying there;
  • Home letting and home sharing—renting out all or part of your primary residence both while you are living there and at times when you’re not there;
  • Secondary letting—renting out a property that is not your primary residence, such as a second home or a holiday home, when you’re not using it.

You can use the short-term lets checker tool on the Scottish Government website to find out if you need a license for your property and what type of license you need to start Airbnb in Scotland.

By obtaining the necessary licenses and permissions, you’ll be able to confidently host on Airbnb and focus on providing an enjoyable experience to your guests to encourage great reviews and repeat bookings. Remember that one of the most critical aspects that impact guest experience is fast and clear communication via messages, and it’s also very time-consuming. So, a smart move is to automate this process using vacation rental software like Hospitable.

Have conversations with your guests even when you sleep.

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Airbnb License in Scotland: What Are the Requirements and How to Apply?

The law says that short-term let accommodation in Scotland must meet certain mandatory conditions to get a license, including:

  • Meet the Repairing Standard for houses and flats;
  • Hold a valid Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) dated within the last ten years (where it applies) and display the EPC rating in advertising;
  • Meet fire safety criteria, including heat, smoke, and carbon monoxide alarms, and have records showing that furnishings meet the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations 1988;
  • Accommodation with a gas supply must have a Gas Safety Certificate dated in the last 12 months;
  • Have Electrical Installation Condition Report and Portable Appliance Testing Report;
  • Carry out a fire risk assessment and legionella risk assessment;
  • Have building insurance valid for the duration of the license and public liability insurance valid for each short-term let agreement.

Local councils may add extra conditions, which they should list on their website. Local authorities may also ask you to submit floor plans for the accommodation as part of your application for a license to determine the maximum number of guests that can stay there. Be ready for the council to ask to visit your property for an assessment.

You can apply for a short-term rental license through your local council’s website by completing and submitting the application form. You’ll need to pay the application fee that covers the cost of the council’s administration. License fees vary across local councils and may depend on the size of the property you want to rent out and the license type.

Keep in mind that you must notify your neighbors about your application for a license. You must display a site notice at or near your property for 21 days from the date you submitted your application to your licensing authority.

If you are a new host, your council has up to 9 months to process your application. If a local council doesn’t decide on your application within this timeframe, you’ll automatically get a license for up to one year.

Your first short-term rental license can last up to 3 years from the date it was issued, but it’s up to local councils to decide how long your license will last.

You can find more information about Airbnb regulations in Scotland and how the licensing scheme works if you check out the short-term lets licensing guide on the Scottish Government website.

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