THE Scottish Government will roll out a crackdown on Airbnb-style short-term lets before next summer.

Housing Minister Kevin Stewart is set to fast track handing new powers to councils over the next few months, and plans for regulations to be in place before Holyrood is dissolved for the 2021 election.

The plan was paused as the Covid-19 pandemic hit, but will be fast-tracked amid calls to ensure new rules ease the pressure on Scotland’s housing market.

The new licensing rules could include local authorities being given power to set up “short-term let control areas” and “carefully and urgently review the tax treatment” on the properties.

READ MORE: Airbnb makes up a quarter of listings in Edinburgh and Skye

However some tourism bosses have expressed concern over introducing new rules after lockdown hit hard this year.

In Edinburgh there is evidence that the number of short-term lets is adding to the housing crisis. In the capital city there is more accommodation available for short-term lets than for private rented homes.

The city council has previously said it would like to see local authorities given the ability to cap the number of short-term lets and ensure properties comply with health and safety rules.

In a letter to the Local Government Committee, Stewart said that after work was paused on short-term lets regulation it has now been resumed.

He went on: “We aim to lay the regulations giving local authorities powers to license short-term lets and introduce control areas in December so that they can be in force by spring 2021.

“As part of preparation to do this, we will be engaging stakeholders on our detailed proposals in autumn.

“The delay caused by Covid-19 necessitates that this will be a shorter period of engagement than originally planned but we will make sure that the process is effective in refining our proposals and finalising the statutory instruments.”

The National: Andy Wightman

Scottish Greens housing spokesperson Andy Wightman (above) has been at the forefront of calls for greater regulation of short-term lets.

He told The Herald: “The Covid crisis has really shone a light the impact of unlawful short-term lets, especially where they occur in shared buildings. Any licensing scheme needs to be robust and recognise the impact this poorly regulated market has had on housing provision, as well as the impact these properties have on the surrounding community.

“The Scottish Government proposals must go further. For example, it’s clear that no licenses should be issued unless proper planning consent is in place. Each successful application is another home taken out of use, so councils must have the ability to reject applications based on the impact on their jurisdiction.”