Short-Term Let Licensing for Self-Catering Properties

Katie Kolita under tree

What is it and how will it affect your business?

Offering self-catering holiday accommodation has become a key diversification strategy for many farmers and landowners across Scotland. Whether you have several cottages, or a single city flat, under new legislation a licence will be required to continue to operate.

The Short-Term Let Licencing Scheme (“the scheme”) has been introduced following the influx of flexible self-catering accommodation throughout Scotland. It aims to ensure all accommodation meets the basic safety standards required. The scheme also provides discretionary powers to local authorities by creating a register of accommodation providers and assists with complaint handling and disputes with neighbours more effectively. A licencing program ensures all accommodation is suitable and safe to be operated as a holiday let, increasing guest confidence and visitor experience, and therefore benefitting the Scottish tourism industry.

What is the legislation?

The legislative basis for the scheme is under the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 (Licensing of Short-term Lets) Order 2022 (“the Order”), which came into force on 1st March 2022 as an insert to the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 (“the Act”). The Order requires all local authorities to establish a mandatory licensing system by 1st October 2022 and schemes are thereon operated by local authorities. The scheme requires all short-term lets to comply with mandatory ‘Safety Standards’ applicable across Scotland. Additional conditions can also be implemented by local authorities. The scheme also ensures that you, as the operator are a responsible person to manage the holiday let.

How will it affect you?

Typical requirements of the mandatory safety standards include Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR), Gas Safety Certificate, EPC and necessary insurances. In addition, all accommodation must also comply with the Repairing Standard and Tolerable Standard for Scotland, including complying with the February 2022 changes to fire, smoke and carbon monoxide alarm legislation.

As the licencing is managed by local authorities, additional requirement specific to the needs of the local area can also be imposed such as restrictions on emissions from wood burners.

The deadline for licencing applications are as follows:

  • 1st October 2022 for new operators.
  • 1st October 2023 for existing operators (extended from 1st April 2023).

Therefore, any new holiday lets will now require a licence prior to operation and existing operators must apply for a licence to operate post 1st October 2023. This will be a legal obligation and criminal offense to operate a holiday let without a licence; you could be fined up to £2,500.

Self-catering accommodation will require a ‘Secondary Licence’ which will be valid for three years. There is a fee associated with the initial granting and renewal of the licence which is dependant on the local authority, size and capability of the accommodation.

Finally, it should be noted that for accommodation to operate as a holiday let (and therefore be licenced), the accommodation must be available to let for 210 days out of 365, be occupied for 105 days and must not be occupied by the same person for more than 155 days.

Whilst applying for a licence may seem to be a formality, it will be beneficial (and ultimately necessary) for the continuation of your business and the Scottish tourism industry, as well as providing a good opportunity to review your property(s) and ensure compliance is all up to date.

Advice for England

The current scheme is enacted in Scottish legislation therefore only applies in Scotland, however a similar scheme is being developed in England where the Short-term and Holiday-let Accommodation (Licensing) Bill is currently in its second reading in the House of Commons. The current Scottish scheme will provide a heads up for English property owners as to what an English licencing system could look like.

Davidson and Robertson are experienced in undertaking Short-Term Letting Licencing applications across Scotland and can effectively manage or help with any part of your application.

For more information, contact Katie Kolita on 01556 512 150 or email


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