Do You Need a License for Airbnb in the UK?

do you need a license for airbnb uk

By The Hospitable Team

Owning a vacation rental can be a lucrative side hustle, so it’s no wonder that many homeowners in the UK take advantage of the opportunity to put their house on Airbnb.

Still, many local and national governments worldwide have intervened in the short-term rental market in recent years, trying to restrict Airbnb hosting activity. The approaches to regulatory measures taken in different countries vary significantly.

They range from digital registration schemes to licensing schemes and stricter limits on the number of nights a property can be rented out per year. Many local governments even limit the number of short-term rentals in their location.

So before you list your home or apartment on Airbnb and its alternatives in the UK, you need to have a good understanding of the legal requirements you need to meet and ensure compliance.

So, do you need a license for Airbnb in the UK? In this article, we’ll talk about approaches to licensing Airbnb and other short-term lets taken by local authorities in different parts of the UK.

Do You Need a License for Airbnb in Your UK City?

If you have a vacant living space in a popular tourist hotspot in the UK, renting it out on Airbnb can be a great way to earn additional income or even grow a full-time short-term rental business. And if you use vacation rental software like Hospitable to automate your hosting routine, you can manage your Airbnb remotely and put your business on autopilot.

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But before embarking on your Airbnb business, you should check with your local council to ensure you can legally operate a short-term rental in the area. Different locations throughout the UK have different Airbnb rules and regulations; in some places, hosts need to register or obtain a license to operate first.

Scotland

Since October 2022, the Scottish Government has introduced a mandatory licensing scheme for short-term accommodation across Scotland. The licensing scheme covers different types of residential and commercial accommodation, including

  • B&Bs and guesthouses
  • Boats and boathouses
  • Cabins
  • Cottages
  • Castles
  • Chalets
  • Serviced apartments
  • Farmhouses
  • Shared homes or rooms within a home
  • Shepherd huts
  • Treehouses
  • Tents, tipis, or wigwams
  • Yurts, etc.

All hosts must apply for a short-term let license before accepting bookings or receiving guests. Hosts who offer short-term lets within their House of Multiple Occupation (HMO) will need a short-term let license in addition to their HMO license. Remember that if you have more than one property (at a different address), you need a license for each property.

According to the law, there are certain mandatory conditions that short-term let accommodation must meet to get a license. So, when applying for a license, you need to have the following information at hand:

  • A valid Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
  • A Gas Safety Certificate dated in the last 12 months (for accommodation with a gas supply)
  • A current Electrical Installation Condition report
  • A Portable Appliance Testing Report
  • Legionella Risk Assessment—Date Completed
  • A fully completed fire safety checklist
  • Public liability insurance valid for the duration of each short-term let agreement
  • Planning permission (required in short term let “control areas”)

The local council decides the cost of a short-term let license in its area, and it can also set extra conditions you need to meet to get a license, so you need to check your local government website to find out.

Northern Ireland

Under the Tourism (Northern Ireland) Order 1992, property owners can’t provide tourist accommodation as a business if they don’t have a valid certificate issued by the national tourist board, Tourism Northern Ireland. These regulations apply to all tourist accommodation categories, including hotels, guest houses, B&Bs, hostels, campus accommodations, guest accommodations, etc.

A certificate can be issued after the physical inspection of the premises conducted by Tourism Northern Ireland. These checks aim to establish whether establishments comply with the minimum legislative standards, such as fire safety. You can apply for a certificate and learn more about tourist accommodation inspections on the Tourism Northern Ireland website.

England

Currently, there is no system for statutory registration or licensing of vacation rentals in England, and only the London government has powers to restrict short-term and holiday letting activity in its area (90-day rule). However the national Government plans to introduce a short-term let registration scheme in England, so local authorities can better understand and monitor the impact of short-term lets on their local communities.

The government will separately introduce planning measures to provide local areas with more control over the future growth of short-term lets. Hosts must get planning permission to rent their properties for over 90 nights a year. There is no information about the specific timeline for implementing the registration scheme and planning measures, but the government said changes will be introduced starting this summer.

Airbnb said the company welcomes the introduction of the new registration and planning rules for short-term lets in England. They hope that the registration scheme will help increase transparency and give local authorities the information they need to enforce clear rules for everyone and protect everyday Brits who host to earn extra money that helps them keep up with the rising cost of living.

According to Airbnb, the typical UK host earned almost £5,500 in 2023. But you can get more bookings and earn more money if you list your property on other platforms and build your website to accept direct bookings. If you opt for Hospitable, you can efficiently manage all your listings on multiple channels from a single dashboard and be protected from double bookings.

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Wales

As it stands, you do not need a license for Airbnb in this part of the UK. The Welsh Government has announced plans to introduce a statutory registration and licensing scheme for all visitor accommodation in Wales before the end of the year.

The first phase will be a statutory registration scheme for all accommodation providers, which will provide a register on the broad range of visitor accommodation available across Wales. It will include details on who operates in the sector, where, and how they operate.

Once a registration scheme is fully established, the government intends to follow a licensing scheme for all visitor accommodation. The licensing scheme will initially focus on confirming compliance with safety requirements visitor accommodation providers should already meet. There are also plans to introduce quality standards at a later stage.

The Bottom Line

Short-term rental laws and rules are local and are constantly changing. So, if you’re considering starting an Airbnb business in the UK, check your local council’s website. There, you can find more information about whether you need a license or planning permission for your property, what type of insurance is required, and what taxes you must pay.

If you are thinking about investing in a property in a UK city with a high demand for vacation rentals, you may want to check out our article, where we share data about the average Airbnb occupancy rate in different UK cities and regions that are popular among tourists.

airbnb average occupancy rate

Airbnb Average Occupancy Rate in the UK Market

One of the most important metrics you should consider when choosing a market and checking out prospective investment properties is the Airbnb average occupancy rate by city. Read the article to learn about the occupancy rate in different UK cities and regions.

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