B&Bs and guesthouses across the Islands and the rest of Scotland are caught up in a struggle with Scottish Government officials about their new 'Short-Term Lets' licensing law.
The law is a result of years of campaigning by the letting industry – including B & Bs and guesthouses – against innovations such as Airbnb.
The UK Bed & Breakfast Association says the regulations are now set to be applied to all those involved with letting bedrooms and “should not be aimed at being financially punitive.”
The Skye-based visitor organisation Skye Connect has commented that this is “contrary to an original understanding that BBs would not be included in the proposed Short Term Lets licensing legislation.”
Those affected can email their views to
by Friday 22 January.
The UK Bed & Breakfast Association says its original intention was to tackle the "very real problems" which have arisen – especially in cities like Edinburgh – as a result of the explosive growth of unregulated accommodation on platforms like Airbnb.
“These represent a danger to consumers, a nuisance to neighbouring residents - and of course, very unfair competition to B&Bs who comply with existing rules and are checked and inspected for fire safety etc.”
But the association wanted a low-cost, light touch accommodation registration scheme, not the Scottish Government's preferred option of a licensing scheme which, they feel, would be “unwieldy, expensive and onerous, and would be likely to have unintended consequences.”
However, the Scottish Government then decided to proceed with a licensing scheme for Short Term Lets and asked for further comments on this last October. The Bed & Breakfast Association replied, saying: “We have never been in favour of a licensing scheme, preferring a low-cost registration scheme. However, if a licensing scheme has been decided on, we strongly advise that thought be given to making it affordable to micro-businesses. The regulations seem to provide for the relevant department to decide how much to spend, then divide that figure by the number of properties and charge accordingly.
“To us, that is a recipe for overspend in cost and consequently for very small enterprises to be hit with punitive charges as the price of doing any business at all.
"That would be unfair, disproportionate and damaging to Scotland's economy and to tourism.
“The main purpose of this regime (we believe) should be to bring accommodation on "peer to peer platforms" - which come within the definition of "short term lets" - into a comparable safety compliance, inspection and enforcement regime as that currently applied to our members (B&Bs & guesthouses).
“The licence fee for the smallest properties/businesses should be set bearing this in mind, and after consultation with industry representatives - and kept under review.
“We understood that the Scottish Government's original intention had been to target the new STL rules at the risky short-term lets causing the problems – i.e. those on the platforms which are unchecked and unregulated. But the legislation they have now drawn up will catch small B&Bs too: i.e. those of "Class 9" (houses) under the Use Class Order (UCO).
“UCO 9 allows a householder in Scotland to offer bed and breakfast without planning permission "where no more than two bedrooms are used for this purpose or, in the case of premises having less than four bedrooms, only one bedroom is used for that purpose". It looks as if all small B&Bs in this category will have to apply for the new licence.
“We are very disappointed that the Government has taken this course and will be pressing for changes.
“Our colleagues at the Association of Scottish Self-Caterers (ASSC) - who also represent thousands of existing home-based micro-businesses in Scotland - have similar views to us on the principles of this issue and the mistaken (in our view) path the Scottish Government has embarked upon.
The ASSC has written a summary of the implications for B&Bs of the Scottish Government's STL regulations