THE licensing scheme for short-term lets has come into force across Scotland.

Despite ongoing requests to delay the scheme from landlords and attempts to block the legislation from opposition parties (and SNP MSP Fergus Ewing) in the Scottish Parliament, the deadline of October 1 remains legally binding.

It means that it is now a criminal offence to let either a room in a home or an entire property without a licence - although those who have already applied can continue to operate while their application is considered.

In order to gain a licence, hosts will be required to display energy performance ratings on their listings, have adequate insurance and ensure that the property complies with fire and gas safety precautions.

READ MORE: Robin McAlpine: I have a plan that WILL win independence in 10 years

Over the past months opponents of the scheme have compared it to the Highland Clearances, pogroms and claimed it will mean the end of the Edinburgh Festival - garnering much criticism for their "offensive" comparisons. 

But supporters say that a reduction in the number of short-term lets is needed to provide much-needed housing for residents in various towns and cities, particularly Edinburgh.

Housing Minister Paul McLennan said local authorities had been prepared for a late surge in applications, with data suggesting that thousands of short-term let operators had so far failed to apply for a licence.

He said: “I think there’s been an upsurge (in applications), certainly in the last couple of weeks – we had a debate a few weeks ago where we talked about that and reiterated that the deadline wouldn’t be extended, it will be October 1.

“So we have seen an upsurge and I know there are lots of local authorities that are staying open this weekend to pick up that expected surge.”

READ MORE: Toni Giugliano: ‘I want to be Falkirk’s last MP’

Fiona Campbell, the chief executive of the Association of Scotland's Self Caterers (ASSC), apologised to businesses for the legislation.

In a statement, she said: “Today, it is with a heavy heart that I have to apologise to self-catering businesses and small accommodation operators across Scotland, and to everyone whose businesses and livelihoods depend on tourism who will feel the effect.

“Unfortunately, the Scottish Government has chosen to ignore small business owners, and the 'arguably' unintended consequences of this legislation will begin to take hold and impact across Scotland in the coming months.

“It is with sincere regret that I feel that I have let down responsible business owners who have made life-changing decisions to close their doors as a result of the Scottish Government’s intransigence. This legislation doesn’t add up and it is already destroying people’s livelihoods.”

But tenants rights organisations have welcomed the move, with hopes it will reduce disruption to neighbours of short-term let properties and increase permanent housing stock.

While landlords have warned of the impact the scheme could have on tourism, The National has previously reported on how similar schemes in other European countries have worked – with one expert highlighting that it didn’t hurt the tourism industry in cities like Barcelona and Paris.