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airbnb and B and B's

We have booked most of our accommodations for a May 2024 trip with airbnb. I have been reading about new legislation for licensing of short term rentals which are starting in October of 2023. We have contacted all our hosts but my question is if they do not respond should we assume they are not getting the license and would it be best to find other accomodations? Does the legislation also include B&B's? It is all alittle confusing, airbnb was not much help indicating we should contact our hosts. Is anyone having the same issue and what have you found out in recent weeks! We think we have plenty of time to rebook if needed but need to be clear on what we can book! thank you in advance!

Posted by
275 posts

The new legislation covers anyone offering accommodation to paying guests for even just one night. This means yurts, caravans, Bed and Breakfasts, Guest Houses, glamping sites (glamorous camping for those who don't know), Airbnb listings and anything else you can think of.

Friends of mine have just pulled the plug on their B&B because they found the idea of obtaining a license too daunting and there was apparently no guarantee anyone who applied would get one. I'm guessing they will not be the only people to do this and as a result tourist accommodation in Scotland may become hard to find and expensive when you do.

I see what the Scottish government are trying to achieve and also understand why but it does seem to be a sledgehammer to crack a nut approach, although there are pros and cons and two sides to every story.

People like my friends who offered a clean, safe and friendly place to stay in their own home were not affecting the housing market in any way by using their spare bedrooms to generate an income. Unfortunately the Airbnb bandwagon was jumped on by some folk who used it to list their own holiday homes to make money or turned over their long term let properties to short term lets to make more money than they might otherwise have done. This has caused problems by pricing locals out of the property markets in certain areas. Of course no one wants rogue landlords either and it's not unheard of for tourists to be scammed out of money by listings which do not exist or which do exist but are not safe or clean. STR licenses should help stamp this sort of thing out.

From everything I see the government will not change its mind about STR and are committed to it and the First Minister was recently quoted as saying it was the "right thing to do" to get a license.

If you are looking to book somewhere to stay I think you need to ask your accommodation provider for their license number. If they can't provide one then go elsewhere. I'm told those applying to get STR licenses have to go to their individual councils who are implementing the scheme. It is not being run from a central office. After initially applying they are given a case number and then have to wait for matters to proceed. Some councils will be quicker than others to issue licenses.

It does sound like a bit of a minefield to me and must be causing great stress to those caught up in it.

Posted by
98 posts

We are traveling to Scotland April/May for a lengthy visit next year. Our accommodations were reserved through Airbnb and Booking.com. I recently contacted our accommodation hosts to confirm compliance with the new STR licensing requirement. All hosts replied promptly confirming compliance which is what we had anticipated. They were unfailingly reassuring that their businesses would be continuing. This was for stays in Stirling, Oban and Orkney.

Our host in Stromness did say she knew of a few small properties on Orkney that would not be available going forward as the property owners found the licensing requirement difficult to deal with. For those looking to stay on Orkney reserving accommodation could be a challenge and it seems the need to reserve far in advance will be ongoing.

Posted by
1188 posts

Existing operators (of which I am one) have until 30th September to apply for a licence. The local authorities have a massive backlog of applications to work through. I applied in early August and have received no contact from Highland council apart from an automated email acknowledging my application. Personally I only open for 12 weeks a year, as I don’t rely on the income, and do it more to meet interesting folk from all over the world and give my husband something to do while I am teaching piano! I am not advertising until I receive my licence, but I am cautious by nature and there’s nothing to stop me advertising now, as long as I commit to cancelling any future bookings should my licence be refused. Interestingly Highland council have not yet refused any B&Bs a licence, but I am hearing that lots of self catering places in Edinburgh are being refused.

Posted by
16 posts

Thanks all for the information. Seems like it is confusing to the owners and renters! It appears if you see they have a license on the site that is the best choice for now.

Posted by
18507 posts

Diane, get the registration numbers to confirm what you have been told.

It's their right to pass any legislation they want, but I suspect if they are ever honest about it, they will come to regret their decision. Till then, it just got more expensive to visit.

Posted by
1188 posts

Once a property is registered and approved then the owner has to display the registration number on any advertising material. After an application has been made the property can still advertised in advance of a licence decision, but there will not be a registration number available. The owner should be able to let you know that they’ve applied for a licence, but there’s really nothing else they can tell you. As I said above existing operators have until 30 Sept to apply and there are big backlogs for the local authorities. It may take months and months for licences to be approved.

Posted by
18507 posts

So, if they apply they can rent, even if they have not yet been approved and if they are rejected they can still rent to the reservations they took after applying, but before being rejected?

Posted by
1188 posts

They can take reservation while waiting for their application to be decided but if they are rejected they are required to cancel all reservations. They are required to tell those booking that this is the case. If they are an existing BnB they are unlikely to be refused but if they are a holiday rental and are in Edinburgh their chances of being refused seem quite high, based on industry reporting that I have seen.