THE Scottish Tories are set to force a vote in Parliament in a bid to delay the short-term lets licensing scheme later this week.

Murdo Fraser, the party’s tourism spokesperson, said that Scottish ministers should “pause these destructive plans before it's too late” ahead of the debate scheduled for Wednesday September 13.

Short-term let owners have until October 1, after an initial six-month delay, to sign up for the scheme, with the Scottish Government insisting that none have been refused so far.

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Ministers insist the scheme will ensure short-term let properties are regulated in the same way as other types of accommodation, such as hotels and caravan parks.

Last month, SNP MSP Fergus Ewing joined all 31 Tory MSPs, three Labour MSPs and two LibDems, in a cross-party letter asking the First Minister to pause the scheme.

We revealed that a third of those MSPs had a relevant interest in the rental sector, including Fraser, who is a landlord and accepted tickets to the Scottish FA final at Hampden from a firm whose business interests include letting properties.

Pressure has been growing from the sector in recent weeks as the deadline grows closer, including a protest outside of Holyrood by short-term let owners.

The National: Murdo Fraser

One attendee was criticised for appearing to compare the scheme to ethnic cleansing, by describing Holyrood as a “pogrom Parliament” on a placard.

Now, the Scottish Tories have said that ministers “must see sense” and delay the deadline again.

“This scheme – however well-intended some of its provisions are – is going to have huge and catastrophic unintended consequences if it goes ahead next month,” Fraser (above) said.

“It was designed to tackle problem city-centre units, but B&Bs, guest houses and those seeking house-swap arrangements will now be hit with crippling additional costs and bureaucracy.

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“There is a real danger this will destroy small businesses and have a huge knock-on impact on the wider Scottish economy.

“Ministers risk repeating the mistakes of the shambolic deposit return scheme by ignoring the stark warnings of businesses and stubbornly ploughing ahead with a fatally-flawed policy.”

More than 1500 short-term let landlords signed a letter to Humza Yousaf in a “final plea” to pause the scheme ahead of the deadline, claiming that the industry is pro-regulation.

Fiona Campbell, chief executive of the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers (ASSC), who previously claimed the scheme was “sexist”, said that it was an “impending disaster”.

The National: MSP Paul McLennan

“The message to the First Minister is loud and clear: Please listen to those who work day-in, day-out in our sector, pause your scheme and work with us on a viable, proportionate and balanced alternative that won’t cause untold damage to Scottish tourism,” she said.

“Let’s work together to put things right.”

Housing minister Paul McLennan (above) said: “Regulation of short-term lets has been introduced at a time of significant growth and change in the sector, and to make sure that accommodation is safe, including gas safety certificates and suitable electrical equipment, as well as responding to community concerns on the impacts.

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“Over the past four years, ministers in a range of capacities have engaged with the sector, listening and responding to feedback, this includes several meetings in recent weeks and months.

“We have already brought forward a one-off six-month extension to the scheme, which means existing hosts have had 20 months to comply with conditions and a year to prepare and submit their application.

“No operator to date has been refused a licence, among those who have already applied.

“The responsible thing to do is for everyone to get behind the task of encouraging and supporting those short-term let hosts that must apply for a licence before the October 1 deadline, in order to continue operating.”

The National: Neil Gray

We told how Wellbeing Economy Secretary Neil Gray (above) insisted that the Scottish Government will not back down to pressure from the lobby over the deadline.

It will be a criminal offence to let either a room in a home or an entire property after October 1 without a license.

The scheme covers bed and breakfasts, guest houses and self-catering sites, but will not apply to hotels.

It requires hosts to display energy performance ratings on listings, have adequate buildings and public liability insurance, as well as various fire and gas safety precautions.