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Holiday lets should need planning permission, say lawmakers

Scotland’s draft planning bill underwent a number of changes as lawmakers tinkered with the wording.

One of the key amendments impacts anyone renting out a home as a short-term holiday let. Members of the Scottish Parliament reacted to pleas from their constituents to demand property owners gain planning permission before converting a home for holiday lets.

The move comes in response to concerns that young people have difficulties finding affordable homes because landlords and investors are switching their properties to holiday lets. Many are more accessible thanks to online property portals like AirBnB which have made marketing holiday homes easier and cheaper than going through specialist agencies.

The problem affects those in rural areas as well as popular tourist cities, like Edinburgh. The new proposal will not stop tenants or homeowners taking a lodger into a spare room, only those renting out an entire home.

Green MSP Andy Wightman was behind the move.

"The uncontrolled and rapid rise in short-term lets in our cities and our rural communities is depriving families and individuals of badly-needed long-term homes,” he said.

Planning minister Kevin Stewart confirmed he was sympathetic to the amendment but said: “I have concerns about the effects on long-term communities of houses and flats being used for short-term letting, but there were significant difficulties with the wording of the amendment."

The amendment will be discussed again at the next stage of the Bill. The Bill is part of a huge reform of planning in Scotland aimed at giving communities more say over how building homes and infrastructure projects will impact their neighbourhoods. The proposals are hugely contentious and met opposition from all sides, which led to nearly 250 changes to the wording at the committee stage.