A LICENSING scheme aimed at short-term let properties in Scotland has opened.

The scheme means the owner of any Airbnb-style, short-term let must possess a licence by April 1 of next year, with new owners forced to be licensed before they receive guests.

The move has proven controversial in the tourism industry, but the Scottish Government has said it will improve safety standards by requiring hosts to display energy performance ratings on listings and have adequate buildings and public liability insurance as well as various fire and gas safety precautions.

Local councils are responsible for setting fees, which will vary based on the size of the property and the type of let, and for implementation of the scheme, which was passed the Scottish Parliament earlier this year.

READ MORE: Laws to freeze rents and halt evictions to be fast-tracked by Scottish Government

“Our new licensing scheme will support responsible operators and give guests the confidence that their short-term let: be it a flat in Edinburgh; a property for a business trip to the Borders; or a cottage in the Highlands; meets the same set of safety standards,” said the Housing Secretary, Shona Robison.

“These new conditions include measures such as displaying an energy performance rating on listings, or securing valid buildings and public liability insurance.

“We know the vast majority of short-term lets businesses are already following these safety standards as a matter of best practice, and some are already required by existing legislation.

READ MORE: Scotland's councils to have power to tax tourists under government plans

“We know short-term lets make a positive contribution to Scotland’s tourism industry and local economies, and these measures will allow them to continue doing just that while ensuring this is balanced with the needs of local residents and communities.

“The deadline for applications from existing hosts is April 1, and I would urge all hosts and operators to contact your local authority as early as possible to learn how to apply.”

VisitScotland CEO Malcolm Roughead said the body has been “working closely with representatives from across the sector ahead of introduction of the licensing schemes” through an industry advisory group.

The Scottish Government will monitor the impact of the scheme on the sector next summer to assess if further measures are necessary.