The Scottish Government has introduced legislation that requires councils to operate a licensing regime for short-term lets in their council areas.
You can find out more about the legislation and read the Scottish Government guidance for hosts and operators at Short-term let licences - mygov.scot
Information on the Scheme
Existing providers of Short Term Lets have until 1 October 2023 to apply for a licence and can continue to trade while any application is being processed. We must determine those applications within 12 months.
Operators of new short term lets that intend to begin trading on or after 1 October 2022 must be licenced before they can begin trading. Those applications must be determined within 9 months.
As new host and operators must be licensed before accepting bookings, these applications will be prioritised. The council also recommends that new hosts and operators apply for a temporary licence as they last for a maximum period of 6 weeks, a full licence application should be submitted at the same time or during the 6-week period. The temporary licence will remain in place until a determination has been made on the full licence application.
There are four types of licence for short-term let accommodation:
- Secondary letting - The letting of property where you do not normally live, for example a second home that is let to guests
- Home letting - Using all or part of your own home for short-term lets, whilst you are absent. An example of this could be whilst you are on holiday
- Home sharing - Using all or part of your own home for short-term lets, whilst you are there
- Home letting and home sharing - Operating short-term lets from your own home while you are living there and for periods when you are absent
You can use the Scottish Government site to check if you will require a licence and which licence you will need to apply for.
Do not use the Landlord Registration process for short term let related licence applications as Landlord Registration is a separate scheme.
Apply for a licence
You can now apply for a licence online. Once you have applied, your application will be checked to ensure it is complete and contact will then be made to process payment. Until payment has been received your application cannot be progressed.
Following completion of the application, you will be required to provide a range of evidence to the email@example.com mailbox. Please check below for further information on the required documentation.
The following documentation must be submitted as part of your application:
Gas Safety Certificate
Does not apply to properties that have no gas installation. The inspection must have been carried out by a Gas Safe registered person. If your property has a gas supply, you must carry out annual gas safety inspections and hold a current gas safety certificate. Further information can be found on the Gas Safe Register website Services - Gas Safe Register
Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR)
Does not apply to properties with no electrical fittings or items within the parts of the property which are not for guest use, or to which guests are not permitted to have access. The report must be dated within the last 5 years. Please ensure that you upload all pages of the document. Further information can be found in the at Electrical installations and appliances in private rented properties: guidance - gov.scot (www.gov.scot)
Guidance on Electrical Installations and Appliances as provided by the SFRS
The checklist has been incorporated into the application form. Please ensure that you have an appropriate fire risk safety assessment in place for your property. You can find information below;
Booking and Payment details from customers
To demonstrate that you are an existing short-term let business. This requirement does not apply to properties which started operating from 1 October 2022. Existing operators should provide evidence of previous booking dates and confirmation or receipt of payments for these bookings.
You do not need to provide personal details of the guests or bank account information. Booking records from September 2022 or the previous months would be sufficient.
A site plan, including boundaries, ideally to a scale of 1:50.
For an assessment of the maximum number of guests that can be accommodated safely, applicants must submit floor plan(s) for their property.
Every effort should be made to submit professional plans, however, if you are unable to do this, hand drawn plans will be acceptable providing that they are reasonably to scale or adequately dimensioned. Ideally these plans should include a floor plan of each floor to a scale of 1:50 and if showing elevations to a scale of 1:100.
The floor plans should include reference to:
· Room sizes
· Fire escape routes
· Accommodation intended for guests with mobility impairment
· Smoke and heat detector locations
· Carbon Monoxide detectors (if an open flued appliance is fitted)
· Outline footprint of short term let property in red
· The maximum occupancy capacity of each short term let property
You can view a list of all applications on the . If you wish to object to an application, or make a representation, you can download the and submit this via email to the firstname.lastname@example.org mailbox. You can review the to assist completion of the Objection Form.
To make it possible for councils to deliver this licensing scheme, national legislation allows for councils to set fees that reflect the cost of delivering the service in their area. Fees for West Lothian were agreed at a meeting of the Council Executive on 20 December 2022. These are available in the fee schedule below.
|Type of Application||Fee|
|Home Sharing/Home Letting/Home Sharing and Letting|
|Variation to Licence||£150|
|Temporary Licence1||50% of the full licence cost|
|Inspection and Report2||£120|
1 If an application is made for a full licence during the application period for a temporary licence for the same premises or during the period of effect of the temporary licence the fee paid for the temporary licence will be deducted from the full licence application fee.
2 An inspection fee will only be charged if the council deems it necessary to inspect premises following a complaint.
As part of the implementation of the short-term lets licensing scheme, the council must publish a policy for short-term let licensing in the West Lothian Council area. The council's policy was agreed at a meeting of the Council Executive on 20 December 2022 and sets out its proposed approach to the implementation of the scheme.
The consultation opened at 12 noon on Monday 31 October and closed on Friday 18 November. Responses to the consultation are available below.
Comments from Short-Term Lets Working Group
Should West Lothian Council issue Temporary licences?
16 in favour (84%)
"Housing should be for long term living"
"Accommodation in West Lothian is in extremely short supply and overpriced in the private sector. Granting second home usage for holiday lets etc will only make matters worse for local residents to be able to afford accommodation in the location they work."
"Full licence should be applied for and there is adequate time allowed to operate until a licence is granted"
Apart from as Planning Authority, West Lothian Council does not have power to stipulate what property is used for. Planning powers are extremely limited in this regard.
The Scottish Government have made this licensing scheme mandatory across the country so the council has no choice but to process the licence applications.
The legislation allows for temporary licences to be granted and they last for a maximum of 6 weeks unless an application for a full licence is applied for at the same time or during the period of effect of the temporary licence. Temporary licences can be processed quicker to allow new operators to start operating sooner. This is because the usual site notice provisions do not apply. However, once full licences are applied for site notices do have to be displayed at the property allowing objections to be made by neighbours. Temporary applications can also be used by operators wishing to try out letting on a temporary basis. The same mandatory conditions apply to such licences.
Should there be additional conditions for Temporary Licences?
2 in favour (12%)
"I ticked yes, but would want to be sure that all the mandatory conditions full licence holders are being obliged to fulfil will still apply. I can't actually envisage the need for these in West Lothian but can understand the need for them in somewhere like Edinburgh during festival times when the supply of self-catering could otherwise be insufficient."
No additional conditions were suggested.
During the first year of the scheme all licences granted will be subject to 6 additional conditions (see 5 Below). Temporary Licences will also be subject to the same 6 additional conditions.
Should West Lothian Council issue Temporary Exemptions?
10 in favour (53%)
"all lets should be licenced"
"It could result in unsafe properties which have not had to go through the same hoops as everyone else hosting guests on a regular basis. A bad experience in an unsuitable property would badly reflect on West Lothian and complaints could be made to the Council and my impression is that the Council is overstretched don't have the time and staffing to deal with what could be a complex complaint needing much investigation"
"People will abuse this"
"Housing is a basic right and should not be used for short term profiteering. Homes should either be let with the tenant determining the stay duration"
"Why should a temporary operator be exempt from the requirements of the short-term let licensing scheme? Full time operators are hardworking and are open all year round including during quiet times of year when the revenue we make is negligible. Why should these operators who wish to 'jump on the bandwagon' during busy periods be exempt from requirements that we have to adhere to? Surely this is why this licencing scheme has come about! Due to the rush of par time operators flooding the market in Edinburgh due to certain events."
"Unfair on those who are licensed and who are applying for the licence at great cost."
"Because STL operators should qualify for licence no matter what events are in nearby."
"because there would be no guarantee that they meet health and safety"
"urgent needs arise"
The legislation allows for temporary exemptions to be granted and they are for a maximum of 6 weeks in any year (see 4 below). The Council's policy intends to permit temporary exemptions only for particular events taking place in and around West Lothian or to allow first time operators the chance to try short-term letting before making a full application otherwise temporary or full licences would have to be applied for.
All applications for temporary exemptions are subject to the same checks and the same mandatory conditions as short-term let licences.
What reasons do you think justify an exemption?
Major Sporting Events in West Lothian, or in surrounding areas (e.g. Commonwealth Games) (6 out of 10, 60%)
Major International Events in West Lothian or in surrounding areas (e.g. COP26) (7 out of 10, 70%)
To allow first time operators the chance to try Short-term Letting before making a full application (7 out of 10, 70%)
Having reviewed the responses Temporary Exemptions will be granted if they fall into the suggested three categories. The policy has been updated to reflect this and to state that applications for exemptions which do not fall within one of the categories will be refused.
Should there be additional conditions for Temporary Exemptions?
3 in favour (30%)
Conditions to prevent
· Anti-Social Behaviour;
· Damage or alteration to Property;
· Failure to maintain the property;
· Failure to maintain/contribute to communal upkeep;
· Unlawful Activity;
and a condition regarding waste management.
Having reviewed the comments on conditions it is recommended that during the first year of the scheme Temporary Exemptions
in line with all licences granted will be subject to 6 additional conditions detailed in the policy. These conditions relate to
· Littering & waste disposal
· Anti-social behaviour
· Dealing with complaints
The policy has been updated to reflect this.
In responding to applications advisors can recommend that any of the remaining additional conditions suggested in the policy or bespoke ones can be applied in appropriate circumstances.
Do you have any comments to make on the proposed additional conditions for all STL licences?
"My property is very rural and there are certain conditions that don't really make any sense to my situation. mainly the time constraints for arrival and departure."
"Not sure whether it is an additional condition but the level of detail required on room sizes, etc for short term let properties that have been operating successfully for many years is onerous in the extreme and would be costly for the operator to find and pay for someone to check this out. I feel an exception should be made for those properties who belong to VisitScotland's Quality Assurance Scheme as they have inspected the properties and are happy with the number of guests a property can accommodate. which is stated on their website. The seemingly rigid 11 pm to 7 am ban on arrival time should have a lot more flexibility. I can understand it in somewhere like a tenement block where it could disturb neighbours but not in a rural property which might not have a near neighbour for quarter of a mile. Do we really want to appear unwelcoming to someone whose flight gets in during the early hours... or someone who find it easier to drive up after work on a Friday to avoid busy roads on the Saturday, or who prefer driving with their children asleep in the back of the car on a quieter road at night."
"I can't imagine many parts of West Lothian need this, but it's fine to have the regulations in place in case "AirBnB" blight does impact some part of the council's area."
"Any additional conditions should be made clear to those applying. The control areas if any should be stated. The requirement for planning permission seems excessive."
Having reviewed the comments on conditions it is recommended that during the first year of the scheme all licences granted will be subject to 6 additional conditions as detailed in the amended policy rather than the 14 additional conditions consulted on. See 5 above.
The other additional conditions in the policy can be recommended by advisors in appropriate circumstances. The policy has been updated to reflect this.
In relation to the comments regarding the detail required in plans the reason for this is to avoid inspections of all premises which would have resulted in significantly higher fees. The legislation requires the council to set maximum occupancy levels and detailed plans are required to enable the council to do so without inspections.
Additional conditions which may be applied will be published on the Council's webpage and will be set out within the Short Term Let Policy.
The Short-term Let Policy cannot deal with planning issues as that is separate legislation.
Are there any other additional conditions which you consider the council should include in its policy?
"I think occupiers of neighbouring properties should be consulted before permission is granted as I can foresee issues with noise, litter and parking"
The legislation stipulates that site notices must be displayed at the premises to allow neighbours to submit objections or representations to applications. The government considered whether neighbours should be notified but concluded that site notices were sufficient notice to neighbours. The council therefore cannot request that neighbours are notified.
Do you have any comments to make on the council's proposal regarding duration of Short-term Let Licences? If you disagree with the proposal please provide reasons.
Most agreed with a minimum of a three-year licensing period, and highlighted that a longer period on renewal would be useful. Respondents also called out how change of ownership should require a fresh application - although this may have an impact on charities such as the National Trust who have staff changes more frequently than this. Some highlighted that annual reviews may be beneficial if there are frequent disturbances.
"5 year license would make more sense. Less admin on both sides"
"3 years is a reasonable length of time. Please bear in mind that organisations such as National Trust for Scotland do have staff changes more frequently than a single sole owner."
"3 years is OK. What is of considerable worry is how much these licences are going to cost as there is such huge variation with all the different Councils who have been setting sometimes extortionate fees. Set the fee disproportionally high and a lot of short let operators will either opt to give up or go out of business. The Association of Scotland's Self -Caterers (I am a Director) is already witnessing this trend. Scotland and our area needs to encourage visitors. Not everyone wants to stay in hotels, which seems to be the preference of the Scottish Government"
"Could the renewal of the licence not be longer than 3 years if the first 3 years of licencing have gone without any problems."
"I think they should be reviewed annually, after consulting neighbouring properties who may be suffering disturbances in the preceding period"
"For home sharing, the licence should be longer as there is unlikely to be much change if the same owners are living there."
"Change of ownership should require a fresh application"
Having considered the comments it is considered reasonable that licences will be granted for a three-year period in line with HMO licences and Landlord Registration.
The council has power to serve enforcement notices on licence holders who do not comply with the conditions and ultimately has the power to suspend or revoke licences. It is therefore not considered necessary to have annual renewals in case there are problems.
It is not considered that there has been a sufficient case made from departing from the three-year licence proposal. Therefore, no changes will be made to the policy in relation to the duration of a licence.
Regarding the comments about change of ownership requiring new applications this is indeed the case and the council realises that this could be considered unworkable from a business continuity perspective. It is hoped that the government will consider this issue when reflecting on whether any changes need to be made following the introduction of this licensing scheme.
Should children under 2 count towards occupancy figures for a short-term let?
10 (53% agreed with the proposed policy)
"Because they don't use a bed. I provide a travel cot and don't think of a baby as an additional guest as they usually sleep in the same room as their parents"
"A cot can be used and is occasional use not a permanent bed. They are very small!"
"Under twos don't take up much room. Young families should not be penalised"
"I was surprised that the occupancy numbers are strict. I have a one bedroom flat and one double sofa bed in the lounge yet I can only have 1 guest in the lounge. My lounge is double the size of my bedroom. It means I can no longer accept 4 guests even if 2 are young children."
The occupancy limits are established with consideration of the requirements regarding overcrowding contained within the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 for domestic dwellings. The Act sets limits where children under one are not counted, and children between 1-10 years old count as a 0.5 person. It was considered that short term let properties would not be permanent residency and therefore to be more accommodating and practical there was some scope to adapt this and consider that children under 2 years would not count towards occupancy.
Children under 2 years can be accommodated easier in a temporary cot, or small bed etc. Children over 2 years would be considered as counting towards occupancy and require appropriate provision to be in place for sleeping arrangements. Unlike the Housing Act which counts children under 10 as 0.5 of a person, we took the decision to consider them as a whole person. The approach taken appears to be in line with that of other local authorities.
Do you have any further comments on the Draft Short-term Lets Policy?
"Policy is fine. Only point I would make is if change of use planning permission is required for flat then there should be a cradle to death process that allows planning permission and license to be applied for in one submission. Also nothing to do STL license but rules around change of use planning should be spelt out. I.e if a flat is not going to be given change of use planning permission this should be spelt out to save people wasting time applying for planning permission"
"Please consider how a corporate entity such as National Trust for Scotland apply - there are numerous issues with the other councils that have already started the process. Issues with faulty online forms, forms written that don't even consider a charity. Also consider how a charity pays for the licence Bank transfer is ideal."
"Most I have made earlier. But I do re-iterate, whenever possible, employing the light touch I recall you mention earlier somewhere. especially with self-caterers who have been operating successfully for years. And concentrate your efforts on the many who have been operating under the radar for years with anonymous listings on listing sites where thy feel their properties cannot be identified due to their anonymity."
"I agree in principle to being licensed. It should raise the standard of rental accommodation available. The landlord registration however has less conditions yet people stay in rented accommodation for longer periods. When changing from long term letting to short term it was surprising there were no set conditions to meet or indeed a register of accommodation. However, as I am trying to prepare my application I am finding it very complicated and quite confusing. I now appear to require planning permission for a flat that has been operating as a business for 4 years. All the gas safety test certificate and electrical testing required is sensible and reassuring for guests and owners. I assume when you open the application there will be templates for the fire assessments and legionella risk assessments for the owners to complete. I have had to get an EPC done as I have owned my property for 25 years and didn't have one. (The property was once my home and was not bought for rental accommodation). I may need plans drawn up for a floorplan too. The whole process is actually quite costly and that is before the application fee. I think some clear instructions would be useful and perhaps contact details of people to assist. I think overall the rules, especially of flats should be transparent and clear. It is also important to remember the benefits of bringing tourism to Linlithgow on the local community and the local businesses. As Linlithgow has no large hotels the self-catering business is crucial in attracting tourists from all over the world. Lots of my guests have been really impressed with Linlithgow and the surrounding area. This year has seen a return of many international and domestic guests and next year is also looking good already. Hopefully Linlithgow will become even more attractive as it would appear the strict conditions in Edinburgh will greatly reduce the accommodation available there. It is obviously understandable that a balance must be met with other residents. However, as I operate my business myself I now visit weekly, unlike when I was a landlord and relied on an agent to inspect my property. We have already made significant improvements to some communal spaces interior and exterior with the agreement of other owners and tenants. It is beneficial to all living there. I would suggest that perhaps a minimum stay may be considered. Guests coming and going daily would obviously be more disruptive to an area. It would be good to know if you intend informing all existing rental accommodation operators about the STL requirement and indeed how you will monitor those who may operate without a license."
The government has introduced a licensing scheme for short-term lets and this is under separate legislative provisions from planning legislation. These are therefore two separate issues in law and the council cannot therefore combine the two schemes.
Guidance on planning applications for short-term lets is available on the council's website.
The council intends introduce a system of online payments for this licensing scheme in order to keep costs to a minimum.
The application form which is being finalised will allow applications to be made by organisations.
The policy does make it clear that the council will adopt a risk-based system where risk assessments will influence several aspects of the scheme. The general approach of the council is stated in the policy to be 'light touch'.
Steps will be taken by the council to seek to identify premises which required to be licensed. In future, once the scheme is fully operational, it will be possible for the public to identify unlicensed premises as it is a mandatory condition that a listing or advert must display a licence number. Potential unlicensed premises can then be reported to the body responsible for enforcement of the scheme i.e. Police Scotland.
The decision to introduce a licensing scheme rather than a registration scheme was made by the government.
Councils are obliged to publish lists of premises covered by short-term let licences.
There is a link to detailed government guidance on the council's Short-term Let webpage regarding how to obtain the documents which are required to uploaded with applications.
The legislation does not allow the council to impose a minimum stay condition.
See the comments above regarding enforcement.
You can find further information on planning permission requirements on our planning webpages.
West Lothian Council does not intend on implementing Control Area Regulations mainly due to the estimated, low prevalence of Short-term Let activity in the local authority area. This will be kept under review as the application process opens and we can establish overall prevalence.
Under provisions within the Licensing Order, a preliminary ground for refusing to consider an application for a Short-term Let is that the use of the proposed premises would constitute a breach of planning controls set out under the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997 by virtue of Section 123(1) (a) or (b) of that Act.
Host and operators are, therefore encouraged to engage with the council's planning department prior to submitting a licence application to confirm whether they require planning permission or a certificate of lawful use of development.
Notifying Neighbours and Communities
Hosts are responsible for notifying residents and neighbours of their application for a new Short-term Let Licence, or their renewal of an existing Short-term Let Licence.
Applicants are required to display a site Notice clearly at, or near the premises so that it can be conveniently read by the public, for a period of 21 days. The Public Notice and Certificate of Compliance will be sent with acknowledgement of an application once it has been determined it is competent application.
All objections or representations must:
· Be made in writing (including email and online objection form)
· Specify the ground(s) of the objection or nature of the representation;
· Specify the name and address of the person making it; and
· Be signed by the objector, or on their behalf
Objections or representations should be made within 28 days of Public Notice of the application being given.