Caution – deadline looming for Short-Term Let Licensing Scheme

Katie Kolita under tree

Author: Katie Kolita D&R Graduate Surveyor, Castle Douglas

Many self-catering property owners and operators will by now be aware of the Short-Term Let Licencing Scheme.  However, official figures from the Public Registers show very few proprietors have materially got their licences in place and the 1st October deadline looms.

Katie Kolita has been working with clients who let short-term accommodation in Scotland and highlights key issues.

“If I could pass on one key message to Scottish property owners, it would be to make sure you get your ducks in a row now and apply for your licence whilst there is still time. The fundamentals of the administrative tasks required to apply for a licence aren’t overly onerous, but unexpected delays could have disastrous implications for your business.”

The Short-Term Let Licencing Scheme was 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. The scheme will ensure 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.

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 dependent on the local authority, size, and capability of the accommodation.

Typical requirements of the mandatory safety standards, which the property owner must provide evidence of include Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR), Gas Safety Certificate, Energy Performance Certificate EPC and necessary insurance. 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.

How will it affect you?

  • Should you wish to set up a new holiday let, you will not be able to operate until a licence is granted.
  • Should you currently operate a holiday let and wish to continue to operate, you have until 1st October 2023 to apply to become licenced.

Katie comments “In March 2023, the Scottish Government formally extended the deadline for existing operators to apply for a licence. Whilst there are still some discrepancies with the scheme, it is unlikely a further extension will be granted. Wherever your property is located across Scotland, property owners must consider the localised challenges and potential barriers they may face in applying for a licence. Can you get a certified electrician to provide an EICR within the timeframe? Are you located in a planning control zone and therefore will require planning permission? Will you need to install carpet in the bedrooms of your property and reduce emissions produced by the wood-burning stove?

To ensure your business does not suffer from disruption as a result of the licencing process, property owners must engage with the licencing process now; this matter cannot be buried in the sand.”

Advice for England

The current scheme is enacted in Scottish legislation and therefore only applies in Scotland; however, a similar scheme is being developed in England. The Short-term and Holiday-let Accommodation (Licensing) Bill is now in its second reading in the House of Commons. The Scottish scheme will provide a heads-up for English property owners as to what will be developed in England in the not-so-distant future.

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

For more information contact your local D&R team or Katie Kolita on 01556 512 150 or


We occasionally send out industry news, information on local agricultural business opportunities and updates on our company. If you would like to receive these, please subscribe.