Scottish Government have approved the first short-term let planning control area in Scotland. It affects the whole of the City of Edinburgh Council area and will come into force on 5 September 2022.

Within the control area, generally any change of use of an entire dwelling (flat or house) to a short-term let will require planning permission, subject to exceptions relating to whether the dwelling is the only or principal home of the owner/occupier and whether the tenancy is a statutory private residential one.

Material change of use has always required planning permission. What is new here is that, as a matter of law, using such a dwelling in a control zone for short term letting is deemed a material change of use even if the use is short lived. Changing the use to any other use from short term letting, even back to a residence is also a material change of use requiring planning permission. For what amounts to planning permission

This requirement for actual planning permission for short term let use in a control area comes as part of a double whammy of controls for short term letting, the second part being embodied in new licensing requirements.

All Councils in Scotland must have a short-term let licensing scheme in operation by 1st October 2022 for those starting to short term let after that date . For those already short term letting , those proprietors have until 1 April 2023 to apply for a licence.  All short term let properties must be licensed by 1 July 2024. Licensing authorities can refuse to consider licence applications where they consider use of the premises breaches planning control. So the need to obtain a licence will be a trigger for many to resolve their planning position.

Control areas are the next step on the Scottish Government's march to regulate short term letting with the stated aims of preserving neighbourhoods, preventing inappropriate use and addressing housing shortages, antisocial behaviour and safety regulation.

Edinburgh is the obvious guinea pig given the oft quoted statistic that it hosts a third of all short-term lets in Scotland . However other Scottish Council areas , and not just the cities , but including areas particularly where there is a perceived housing shortage for locals, like Highland Perthshire and Badenoch and Strathspey, are also at various stages of consultation to join suit and have area control.

It will be interesting to track the evolving regulatory landscape as short-term let control areas continue to be rolled out across Scotland. If you are looking for advice on these issues, please do get in touch with your usual Brodies contact.


Neil Collar