Short-term lets policy changed in Glasgow after Edinburgh ruling

The skyline of Glasgow as seen from Queen’s Park.The skyline of Glasgow as seen from Queen’s Park.
The skyline of Glasgow as seen from Queen’s Park.
Glasgow has changed its policy on licences for Airbnb-style properties after parts of Edinburgh’s scheme were ruled “unlawful”.

The city’s licensing policy for short-term lets was agreed in September last year, but it has now been updated following a Court of Session case in June.

Lord Braid ruled as “unlawful” a presumption against allowing secondary lets — an entire property that is not an operator’s principal home — within tenement blocks in Edinburgh.

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He also said a presumption against granting temporary licences was “unlawful”. The decision came after Scotland’s largest ever crowd-funded legal challenge, which saw operators and landlords take Edinburgh’s council to court.

Short-term let (STL) operators must apply for a licence by October 1 this year.

Cllr Alex Wilson, SNP, who chairs the licensing committee, said he thought the policy had been “very robust”, adding the changes are “excellent” and “well thought out”.

He said: “I think it’s also very prudent that Glasgow is taking the opportunity not to go down the route that the City of Edinburgh Council did.

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“We have made the relevant changes to make sure we are not judicially reviewing, costing Glasgow additional money that we could do with saving.”

The policy now reads “a preliminary ground for refusing to consider a STL licence is when the Licensing Authority considers that, the use of the premises for a STL would constitute a breach of planning control”.

Additions include the “occasional use of a flat as short-stay accommodation, which is otherwise a sole or main residence, is unlikely to constitute a material change of use” and “where a flat is being used frequently to provide short stay accommodation there is likely to be a material change of use”.

When deciding whether short stay accommodation would involve a change of use, the frequency and duration of stays, the size of the property, the number of people staying and the nature of services provided, such as cleaning or laundry, will be considered.

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The policy no longer states “a pre-requisite” for flats used for home letting or secondary letting is the applicant must have “planning permission or a certificate of lawfulness”.

New hosts, who never operated prior to October 1, 2022, should note the council “may refuse to consider an application” where “it considers that the use of the premises as a STL would constitute a breach of planning control”.

Applicants will have an opportunity to “set out reasons” as to “why they think planning permission or a certificate of lawfulness” would not be needed.

A statement that the council may “grant temporary exemptions for national events within Glasgow” has been removed.

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The policy states “only in exceptional circumstances” such as “where an applicant who has previously held a STL licence (being no more 7 weeks since the expiry of that licence) but has failed to submit a timeous renewal application” would “a temporary licence application be permitted”.

This position is due to the view “that it is important that members of the public are given an opportunity to submit objections or representations”.

New temporary letting charges have also been included, ranging from £69 to £220 depending on the letting type and the number of people staying.

Councillors on Glasgow’s licensing committee agreed to the “suggested revisals” of its policy “in light of the judicial review decision” at a meeting on Wednesday. Officials reported the council had also “received correspondence from a trade association seeking a review” of the policy.

A second judicial review focusing on short-term let planning policies is being planned in Edinburgh.

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