Short Term Let Licences Scotland

Further to the City of Edinburgh Council becoming the first local authority in Scotland to form a short term let control area following Scottish Ministers’ approval of the proposal back in August, new legislation from 1st October 2022 means that a Short Term Let Licence must be obtained in order to operate a short term let anywhere across Scotland.

This is not a ban on new short term lets but rather is intended to restrict the ability for property owners to convert their residential properties to ‘Airbnb’ style holiday lets in areas of high housing pressure. The plans were positively received by Edinburgh residents during an earlier consultation on the proposal, where 88% of around 5,600 respondents indicated support for the scheme.

The scheme now requires all local councils to establish short term lets licencing regimes which will affect anyone currently or planning to become a host or operator of a short term let. Local councils may also choose to designate short term let Planning Control Areas (PCAs) which, once designated, means that providers of secondary letting of an entire residential home or flat within a PCA will need one of two things in addition to a Short Term Let Licence;

  1. Change of use planning permission (planning permission must either be in force, or an application has been made and not yet determined) or
  2. Certificate of lawfulness

It is worth reiterating for absolute clarity that the Short Term let Licence and the Planning Permission are two different things. A Licence is now needed for all short term lets anywhere in Scotland, with the local authorities responsible for preparing a suitable licencing regime. Planning Permission is only required where a PCA has been designated – this currently only applies to Edinburgh. Find out more here:

A recent update confirmed that any existing hosts/operators, operating before the 1st October 2022 will require a licence. The initially proposed deadline for existing hosts to apply was 1st April 2023, however, parliamentary approval on the 18th January  2023,  means that existing hosts/operators have been granted a six month extension period until 1st October 2023 to alleviate pressure on the application process.

It should be noted that existing hosts/operators meeting the above specification will be able to continue receiving guests and accepting bookings while the licence application process is underway.

If you are a new host/operator, who begins operating after the 1st October 2022, you must have a licence before you are able to take any bookings. This will also apply to existing operators who establish new short term let accommodations, for example, adding a new property to your existing short term let portfolio. Please be aware that the six month extension period for existing hosts will not apply to new hosts.

The new legislation refers to a multitude of property types such as; B&B and guesthouses, boat (if static and not used for transportation), cabins, castles, chalets, cottages, farmhouses, lighthouses, self-catering units and more.

The Scottish Government has created an online questionnaire to help determine if you need a licence, what the exceptions are and how to apply –


Local councils have started to provide information and application forms on their website. As these become available, you will be able to begin the process of applying for a licence.

There are mandatory conditions that every short term let in Scotland will need to follow moving forward which relate to safety. Licensing councils can also set additional conditions according to local needs and circumstances as determined.

The Scottish Government has confirmed that by 1st July 2024, it will be illegal to operate a short term let without a licence. Before the 1st July 2024, it will be illegal in some circumstances, including;

  • Where a new host or operator starts operating while their application is being determined OR where they continue to operate where a licence application has been refused
  • Where an existing host or operator continues to operate where a licence application has been refused

Those hosts/operators working as part of Airbnb have been informed via email of the latest legislative changes direct though we cannot confirm exactly what has been advised.

We expect that local authorities will publish their own guidance in the coming weeks and anticipate that there will be an influx of enquiries coming from hosts/operators of short term lets in order to ensure they are complying with the new regulations by the required deadlines. Our recommendation would be to apply as early as possible to ensure that you do not experience any delays.