Your Guide to Airbnb Licenses in Scotland

Your Guide to Airbnb Licenses in Scotland

Are you complying with the new rules around Airbnb licenses in Scotland? This guide includes everything you need to know, from deadlines to how to apply. 

If you own a short-term rental property in Scotland (including an Airbnb), you’re now required by law to have a license before hosting any guests. How you go about this depends on if you’re a new or existing host. 

What properties require a license?

All short-term rentals in Scotland now require a license to run. If you’re not sure if your property falls under the classification of a short-term let, Scotland’s government website has a handy tool you can use to check. 

But in simple terms, a short-term rental is any property that’s rented out for a short period of time - this could be anywhere from a few days to 3 weeks! 

You may have also heard these property types referred to as Airbnb’s, Holiday Lets, or Serviced Accommodation. These can be used interchangeably to mean the same thing: a property used for short stays, whether that’s for business or leisure. 

Excluded Properties

While most short-term rentals will require a license, there are a few exceptions to the rule. This is if your guest: 

  • Lives in the property as their main home
  • Is a member of your immediate family 
  • Uses the property to carry out work or services for you 
  • Shares the property as part of an educational arrangement

What type of license will you need?

How you’re using or are planning to use the property will affect the type of license you’ll need. There are 4 different types to choose from: 

1. Home sharing: you rent out all or part of your home whilst you’re living there.

2. Home letting: You let all or part of your home whilst you’re not there.

3. Secondary letting: you let a property where you don’t normally live, such as a second home or Holiday Let.

4. Home letting and home sharing: You let out all or part of your home both whilst you’re living there and also when you’re not there.


When is the deadline to apply for a license?

The deadline to apply depends on if you’re an existing or new host. 

Existing Hosts 

The application deadline for existing hosts has been extended to 1 October 2023. This includes anyone making short-term bookings before 1 October 2022. When do you apply, you may be asked for proof you used the property for this purpose during that time. 

You can keep hosting guests whilst a decision is being made on your application. 

New Hosts

Any new hosts will need to already have a license in place. So you’ll need to have applied for and had your application accepted before you can take any bookings. 

It’s now against the law to host any guests before a decision is made on your application, and you could face a fine if you do! 

How do you apply for a license?

All you need to do is apply through your local council’s website – simple. You can even find out what type of license you need before you apply. If you can’t seem to find any information on their website, you should contact your local council directly for help. 

Councils then have up to 12 months to process existing host applications, and 9 months for new hosts. If a decision on your application isn’t reached within that time, you’ll automatically get a license for up to one year. 

What happens if you don’t apply for a license? 

If you don’t apply for a license on time, you could face a fine of up to £2,500. You could also be banned from applying again for a year, and wouldn’t be able to offer lets during that time. 

Ultimately, it’s against the law to accept bookings or host guests before you have a license in place (unless you meet the exclusions described above). 

What happens once you get a license? 

Once your license has been approved, you can get to work with running a successful short-term rental! 

Because guest turnover is so frequent with this property-type, more time needs to be dedicated to keeping your property in excellent condition and your guests happy. Only then are you likely to make bookings again and again. 

Here are just some of the areas that need frequent attention: 

  • Listing optimisation and management
  • Marketing 
  • Review and feedback management 
  • Booking management 
  • Inspections
  • Housekeeping 
  • Maintenance 
  • Utility and bill management

If you’re new to property management or simply don’t have the spare time needed to do it effectively, working with a management company is a popular alternative. 

A management company’s job is to help you manage your rental. The level of support offered really depends on your needs and the company you choose to work with – but the idea is to make your life easier.

Wrap Up

If you have an Airbnb, Holiday Let, Serviced Accommodation, or any form of short-term let you’re planning on renting out in Scotland – then you want to make sure you’re following the new rules around licensing. By following the steps in this guide, you won’t need to worry about getting it wrong. 

Applying for a license is just one part of the short-term letting process. Once your application has been accepted, focusing on continually making bookings is essential for success. If you’re feeling strapped for time and need a little extra help, working with a management company can take the weight off. 

If you’re ready to start making great returns on your short-term rental, but aren’t sure where to start, why not download our ebook: How to Find a Serviced Accommodation Management Company or contact us for a chat about your options!