Frequently asked questions
Guidance, advice and FAQ's can also be found on the Visit Scotland website (opens in new window).
What is the timescale for applying for a short-term let licence?
- new hosts - we have 9 months from the date on which the application is deemed complete to consider and determine each application
- existing hosts - who make an application before 1 October 2023, can continue to operate until 1 January 2025 whilst their licence application is being determined. We have 12 months from the date on which the application was deemed complete to consider and determine each application
Can someone else make a short-term let application on my behalf?
Yes. You can ask another person to make the application on your behalf. If you don't own the premises, then you need permission from the owner to make an application for a licence.
Can I transfer my licence to the new owner if I sell my short-term let premises?
No. Your licence is specific to you or your company, and your accommodation. When you're selling your premises you should notify the Licensing Team, to let us know that you're surrendering your licence.
Will one licence cover several short-term lets?
No, You'll need a licence for each premises you let out as a short-term let.
How long will a licence last?
Licences will generally be granted for a 3 years, and you'll have to renew your licence before your current licence expires. We have the authority to grant a licence for a shorter period if we think it's necessary.
I want to rent my house for major events, i.e. a golfing tournament. Do I need a licence?
Yes, you'll need to apply for a full short-term licence.
Can I apply for a temporary licence for a trial period?
No. We're aware that under the 1982 Act (opens in new window) temporary short-term licences could be applied for. However we aren't considering temporary licence applications, and require full short-term let licence applications.
Does a House of Multiple Occupancy (HMO) property require a licence?
If a property has an HMO licence, a short-term lets licence is required if it's also used for short-term lets. Student accommodation is excluded but private houses and flats let to students during term time, but used as short-term lets outwith this time, aren't excluded.
Will my premises be inspected?
We'll take a risk-based approach to ensuring compliance. This includes self-certification where appropriate and only using inspections where there's grounds to.
When we're deciding whether to carry out an inspection we'll consider:
- feedback from Police Scotland and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service
- peculiarities of the operation such as unconventional accommodation
- patterns of complaints associated with the host, operator, or premises
- intelligence from other inspections, which may indicate a higher incidence of issue or noncompliance in that area
- reputational evidence such as guest reviews and internet profile if available
How do we ensure all tourism accommodation businesses are licensed?
We're responsible for the short-term let licensing scheme and have a duty to ensure compliance with the legislation. We'll use available resources to determine short-term let premises and encourage hosts and operators to make an application for a licence.
Under what circumstances would I not be granted a licence?
A licence won't be granted where:
- anyone named on the application is disqualified from having a licence
- anyone named on the application is not a fit and proper person
- another person is benefiting from the activity who would be refused a licence if they made the application themselves
- the premises are not suitable or convenient such as:
- the location, character or condition of the premises
- the nature and extent of the proposed activity
- the kind of people likely to be in the premises
- the possibility of undue public nuisance
- public order or public safety
- there is other good reason for refusing the application (this can't be applied in a blanket fashion without considering the merits of a particular application)
- mandatory conditions are not complied with
If I'm refused a licence, can I appeal the decision?
If your application is refused you can request a Statement of Reasons from us.
If you're still not satisfied, you have the right to appeal under the Civic Government Scotland Act (1982) (opens in new window) which should be made to the Sheriff Court within 28 days from the date of the refusal.
We're unable to give any legal advice in relation to appealing a decision and it is recommended that independent legal advice is sought.
What will happen if I'm not granted a licence, or don't comply with licence conditions?
Section 7 of the 1982 Act (opens in new window) sets out the following four offences:
- it is an offence, without reasonable excuse, to carry on an activity for which a licence is required without having such a licence. Depending on the activity, different punishments apply. The default is a fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale
- it is an offence to fail to comply with a licence condition, though it is a defence to have used all due diligence to prevent the offence. The default is a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.
- it is an offence for a licence holder, without reasonable excuse, to:
- fail to notify the licensing authority of a material change of circumstances (level 3 on the standard scale)
- make or cause or permit to be made any material change in the premises (level 3 on the standard scale)
- fail to deliver the licence to the licensing authority (level 1 on the standard scale)
- it is an offence to make a false statement in an application (level 4 on the standard scale). These currently attract fines on the standard scale:
How will the public be made aware of a short-term let application?
Applicants are required to display a site notice at or near the premises so it can be conveniently read by the public for a period of 21 days. We'll send you a copy of the public site notice for display once your application has been deemed complete. This will allow anyone to make a representation regarding the application.
I need to display a notice for 21 days but it says that the objection period is 28 days, is this correct?
Yes, there is a discrepancy within the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 (opens in new window) which means that the notice only needs to be displayed for 21 days but the legislative period for objections/representations to the application is 28 days. We'd recommend that you take a photograph of the site notice once displayed, so that if required, you can evidence that the notice has been displayed.
What do I do if my public site notice is removed, defaced or illegible?
The site notice will need to be redisplayed for a further 21 days.
I've displayed my public notice of information for 21 days what happens now?
You're required to send a Certificate of Compliance to us confirming you have complied with the public notice display period. We'll send you a copy of the Certificate of Compliance along with the public site notice (as above).
Can I object to a Short-Term Let Licence?
Objections can be made by neighbours or anyone who wants to raise an objection. Competent grounds for an objection can include:
- the application is inaccurate or misleading
- safety concerns of guests, neighbours or others
- noise or nuisance concerns
- the application runs contrary to other legal or contractual requirements.
Objections should be made within 28 days of the public site notice of the application being given. We'll send the applicant a copy of any relevant objections and they'll have the chance to respond to any objections, either in writing or in person.
What will I do if my licence is lost, defaced or illegible?
How will anti-social behaviour be dealt with under the new licensing legislation?
There are a range of powers available to us to deal with antisocial behaviour through provisions in the Antisocial Behaviour etc. (Scotland) Act 2004 (opens in new window).
We may also include 'additional conditions' requiring the licence holder to manage their premises in a way to prevent anti-social behaviour and to effectively deal with any instances of anti-social behaviour. The licence holder must take reasonable steps to:
- manage the premises to seek and prevent, and deal effectively with any anti-social behaviour by guests to anyone else in the short-term let and in the locality of the short-term let
- ensure that no disturbance or nuisance arises within or from the premises, for example by explaining the house rules to the guests
- deal effectively with any disturbance or nuisance arising within or from the premises, as soon as practicable after they're made aware of it
- ensure any vehicles belonging to guests are parked lawfully by explain parking procedures to guests.
What is a short-term let planning control area?
We have been given powers to designate planning control areas to manage high concentrations of short-term lets.
We don't propose to designate any short-term planning control areas within the Scottish Borders but this will be reviewed on a regular basis. If we introduce any short-term let planning control areas in future, the use of residential properties for short-term lets in the planning control area would be a material change of use and require planning permission.
What type of Code of Conduct should I have for my guests?
It is advisable to have a Code of Conduct in place for your guests. You can include:
- check in and out times
- waste disposal procedure to avoid accumulation of waste
- return of keys and security passes
- noise mitigation - music, congregating in an outdoor space late at night with loud conversations, arrivals and departures at reasonable hours, loud drunken behaviour and disposal of glass at unreasonable hours
- car parking procedure at the property
- contact details of responsible person for premises
- instructions for appliances
I have a guest house with class 7 planning permission use (opens in new window) do I require a short-term let licence?
Yes, unless specified as exempt, under Schedule 1, Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 (Licensing of Short-term Lets) Order 2022 (opens in new window) short-term let accommodation will require a licence to operate and this includes guest houses.
What do I do if there are material changes that effect the licence holder or the property during the period of the licence?
The licence holder must notify us of any change of circumstance relating to either themselves or the licensed property. Material changes can be as simple as a change of name or address or the activity to which the licence relates and should be notified to us within 14 days of the changes taking place. There is also a requirement on the licence holder to notify us of any convictions or offences, again this should be notified to us within 14 days of the conviction or offence. These changes may require a material change to the licence. If you require a change to be made or considered notify us.