The relaxation in the measures in place to combat COVID-19 was welcome news to those keen to re-open their self-catering accommodation and to those looking to enter the short-term letting market.  However, a recent English court decision that a title condition (which provided that a flat was to be used as a private dwelling for one family only) was breached when the property was made available for short term occupation on popular letting websites, should, perhaps, make us stop and think about some of the matters owners must consider.

We recently blogged on the steps to be taken by owners re-opening their self-catering accommodation to deal with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to these steps, here is a reminder of some important things to consider in relation to short-term lets in Scotland and a brief look at what is to come.  

Do you have insurance? 

You may need top up insurance cover for letting on a short-term basis and the consent of your insurance company.

Do you have your mortgage lender's consent? 

If you have a mortgage over your property then you will need the lender's consent.  If the property was purchased with a view to short-term letting, this may already be in place but it is essential to check. 

Does your title prohibit letting? 

If you have restrictions prohibiting using the premises for a business or stating the property must be used for occupation as a private dwellinghouse by one family only then you should seek advice as to whether your proposed holiday letting will breach those conditions.

Do you have an EPC? 

Scottish Government guidance states that an EPC is required when letting property (including for a holiday) and should be obtained before any visitors come to stay at the property..

Is your property safe? 

Whilst holiday accommodation does not have to meet the repairing standard (which applies to private residential lets) the property should still be safe to use.  Among other considerations, you should check fire and water safety.  The Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 applies to self-catering accommodation and the Scottish Government have provided guidance for such premises.

With regard to water, owners may also wish to carry out a check to ensure that there is no legionella in their properties.  While there is no specific legal obligation to carry out a test and have a certificate, there is a general duty to assess and control the risk.

Do you need planning permission? 

At the moment, it is up to each local authority to decide on a discretionary property by property basis whether the use of a property for short-term letting is a material change of use that requires planning permission. City of Edinburgh Council have been active in taking enforcement action against owners using properties for short-term lets.

    In the future, owners of holiday accommodation will have to consider whether they require planning permission and also a licence.  The Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 is to allow local authorities to designate all or part of their area as a "short term let control area" within which the use of a property for short term lets will require planning permission.  Local authorities will also be able to introduce licensing schemes within their areas. As part of any scheme owners will have to ensure that their properties comply with certain health and safety standards. The regulations needed to facilitate these measures are expected to come into force in the Spring of 2021.

    For information on opening up accommodation see our blog.


    Clare Dunlop

    Senior Associate