SNP's Airbnb Regulation Plans Struggle to Gain Support

The Scottish National Party's (SNP) plans to regulate Airbnb properties in Scotland have been withdrawn from Scottish Parliament due to a lack of coherent support. While concerns over short-let properties rented out on Airbnb and similar websites remain, the Scottish government's plans failed to give Scottish councils the powers they need to strike a balance between short and long-term lets in the country. New plans are expected to be submitted later in 2021.

In the meantime, the Short-Term Accommodation Association (STAA) suggests that short-lets will be the first sub-sector of the UK's lettings industry to show a clear recovery as the effects of the coronavirus pandemic ease. The claim from the body is based on research over what type of accommodation holidaymakers are considering booking in the future.

Airbnb in Scotland

Concerns over the rapid growth of Airbnb short-term type lets in Scotland has been growing in recent years and the ruling party in the country has made an attempt to regulate the short-lets sector in the country. However, while the intention to regulate remains, the current plans have been withdrawn from parliament.

The licensing scheme that was drawn up met with strong opposition and the points that could be agreed upon aren’t suitable for needs of local councils to manage the balance between short and long-term lets. However, while short-lets will continue in Scotland without any new regulations, the SNP stated it will draw up and submit new regulation and licensing plans later in 2021.

Following the withdrawal of the regulatory plans, Scottish Housing Minister Kevin Stewart confirmed the SNP is still committed to introducing the right regulations for the short-term letting industry.

“I want the licensing scheme to be as efficient and effective as possible in ensuring the safety of guests and residents, and to provide local authorities with the powers to balance community concerns with wider economic and tourism interests,” Stewart said.

This suggests that although short-lets will continue unchanged in Scotland, for now, there could still be some new regulations to adhere to in the future.

Short-Lets Post-Pandemic Recovery

As UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announced the government’s plan to emerge from the current lockdown, the STAA’s shared a positive outlook for the potential recovery of the short-term lets industry.  Speaking ahead of the PM’s announcement and based on recent research, the STAA said that the industry is well-placed to begin a quick recovery as the economy re-opens for businesses. 

According to the research on holidaymaker’s holiday booking preferences, respondents showed an 11% increase in the level of interest in booking short-let accommodation. That was the most positive result and above the 5% increase in interest in small hotels. This suggests that when consumers are planning their holidays in 2021, they will be more interested in booking short-let accommodation than they were previously, boding well for the sector.

“It is very encouraging to see that short-term rentals have shown the highest level of resilience to the unprecedented restrictions the industry has had to bear,” said Merilee Karr, chair of the STAA. “The encouraging signs are that customer confidence in booking short-term rentals is positive and, with staycations likely to be the focus for 2021, whether Brits travel to the seaside or explore cities such as London or Bath, we hope to welcome them to a variety of beautiful homes when they venture out for their much-needed holidays later in the year.”

Overall, this recent news suggests a positive outlook for the short-lets industry which will likely prove a relief to investors in the sector. Of course, things can change and there’s no guarantee that confidence in the sector will translate into bookings. However, at the moment it’s a welcome piece of news for many.