Short Term Let Control Areas in the Highlands – New Rules for Licensing and Planning Permission

Robert Grant, Senior Planning Consultant at GH Johnston, a Mabbett Company provides an overview of the new rules for licensing and planning permission introduced on 01 October 2022 for short term lets in the Highlands. 

Self-catering holiday accommodation.

Those renting out self-catering holiday accommodation in the Highlands will require to apply for a licence, the licence will need to be applied for by 01 April 2023 to continue to receive bookings. Licences will be granted for a period of up to 3 years and then need to be renewed. If you have existing or new holiday accommodation, defined as the letting of accommodation to one or more guests for one night or more, then, you have until 01 April 2024 to apply.

Short term lets applicable to properties located in a designated ‘Control Area’ – including all of Highland Council Ward 20 – Badenoch and Strathspey.

For properties located in a designated ‘Control Area’ the use of that property – whether it be a country castle or cottage, modern house or a flat, if it is used as a short term let it will also require planning permission. A Change of Use application needs to be submitted even if there are no physical alterations to the land or building. Alternatively, if it has been leased for a period of over 10 years or more, a Certificate of Lawful Use may suffice. It is recommended to check this informally in the first instance. Further details are available at the Scottish Government website.

Short Term Let Control Areas in wider Scotland.

The first Short Term Let Control Area was created in Edinburgh to respond to growing pressures from local residents on housing shortages, coupled with over-provision pressures from ‘Air BnB’ and student housing. Other Council’s may follow suit including Aberdeenshire, Perth & Kinross and Argyll & Bute. In some instances, even if not within a Short Term Let Control Area, planning permission may still be required if the planning authority decide that the use of the property for short term lets is a material change of use.

Act now to avoid future issues renting property.

Since the introduction of the new rules on 01 October, Robert and the Planning Team have seen the first submissions of Change of Use Applications. However, it is worth noting that invariably the more Change of Use Applications submitted in one area, the greater the potential risk that the Council may start to limit the number of those licensed properties to control any perceived pressures. It is important to stress that the new rules are not intended as a ban or a cap but as a control measure to be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

About Mabbett

Established in 1996, we are a leading consultancy offering Planning, Design, Environmental, Engineering and Safety services with a focus on helping you to “See a Difference”.  Our team support you through the planning process; deliver innovative design solutions; and achieve your Net Zero goals.  We save you money; reduce your risk; and keep you compliant.

For more information please contact: Robert Grant, Senior Planning Consultant, Mobile: +44 (0)783 787 7421, E:  

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