Short Term Lets Licence

From the 1st October 2022, the Council (as a licensing authority) is required to establish a new short-term let licensing scheme under The Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 (Licensing of Short-term Lets) Order 2022 (“the Order”).   The aims of the licensing scheme are to ensure all short-term let premises in Scotland are safe; to facilitate Scottish licensing authorities in knowing and understanding what is happening in their area and to assist with handling complaints and effectively address issues faced by neighbours.   

The Council’s Statement of Short-term Let Licensing Policy can be found here.

What is a short-term let?

A short-term let is defined in the Order as the use of residential accommodation provided by a host in the course of business to a guest where all of the following criteria are met:-

  • the guest does not use the accommodation as their only or principal home,
  • the short-term let is entered into for commercial consideration,
  • the guest is not:-
    • an immediate family member of the host,
    • sharing the accommodation with the host for the principal purpose of advancing the guest’s education as part of an arrangement made or approved by a school, college, or further or higher educational institution, or
    • an owner or part owner of the accommodation,
  • the accommodation is not provided for the principal purposes of facilitating the provision of work or services by the guest to the host or to another member of the host’s household,
  • the accommodation is not excluded accommodation, and
  • the short-term let does not constitute an excluded tenancy.

Types of short-term let

There are four types of short-term let licence:

  1. Secondary letting – means the letting of property where you do not normally live.
  2. Home letting – means using all or part of your own home for short-term lets whilst you are absent, e.g. while you are on holiday.
  3. Home sharing – means using all or part of your own home for short-term lets whilst you are there.
  4. Home letting and home sharing – means you operate short-term lets from your own home while you are living there and also for periods when you are absent.

We will not be granting temporary exemptions under any circumstances.  This position will be reviewed on or before 1 October 2025.

We may grant a temporary licence for a duration of up to six weeks.  An application for a temporary licence is still subject to the legislative mandatory conditions and consultation set out below.

A separate licence will be needed in respect of each short-term let accommodation, whether or not they are all in the Moray area.  

Every short-term let in Scotland needs to comply with the mandatory conditions set out in the Order.  These conditions relate to safety.  You can see a full list of the legislative mandatory conditions here

At this time, we will not be imposing any additional conditions to short-term let licences.  This position will be kept under review on a regular basis therefore may be subject to change.  Should we choose to impose additional conditions to short-term let licences, we will publish our conditions.

We will determine whether an applicant is a fit and proper person to be the holder of a licence for short-term lets in Moray.  All those named on the application form is subject to the fit and proper person test.  

Every licence application will require consultation with Police Scotland, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service as well as the Council’s Environmental Health, Planning and Building Standards Services.

When do I need a short-term let licence by?

The law distinguishes between “new hosts/operators” and “existing hosts/operators”.

After 1 October 2022:-

  • New hosts/operators will need to have a licence for short-term let.  This means, if you are not using your accommodation to provide short-term lets before 1 October 2022, you can advertise but not take bookings or receive guests until you have obtained a licence from us.
  • Existing hosts/operators (those using accommodation to provide short-term lets before 1 October 2022) have until 1 April 2023 to apply for a licence.  During this period you can operate without a licence by continuing to take bookings and receive guests unless your licence application has been determined and refused.  This time extension only applies to accommodation used as a short-term let before 1 October 2022.  If an existing host/operator wishes to let out a new short-term let accommodation after 1 October 2022, a short-term let licence is required in the same way as a new host/operator for the accommodation.

    After 1 April 2023, existing hosts/operators can only continue to operate if they have submitted an application for a short-term let licence on or before 1 April 2023 that has not yet been determined or granted by us.

After 1 July 2024:

  • All hosts/operators will need to have a licence before taking bookings or receiving guests.  Operating without a licence on or after 1 July 2024 is unlawful in all cases.

Exclusions

The Order sets out some exclusions, these are:-

  • Licenced Accommodation, under the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 where the provision of the accommodation is an activity listed in the operating plan, or which otherwise requires a licence for use for hire for overnight stays.  E.g. if you operate a restaurant with rooms or an inn which is already licensed specifically to offer accommodation then you are not providing a short-term let for the purposes of the new scheme.
  • Accommodation provided by your guests, e.g. where they bring their own tent (as opposed to glamping where the tent is normally fixed and provided by the host).
  •  Mobile accommodation, which is capable of transporting your guests at the time of their stay. This would exclude, for example where you hire out canal boats or yachts. However, a previously mobile unit that had been immobilised, such as an old tractor or a caravan in a tree would not be excluded.
  • Hotels, with planning consent to operate as a hotel.  Note, the majority of hotels are excluded through being licensed to provide accommodation under the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 (see licensed accommodation above).
  • Aparthotels, comprising five or more serviced apartments in a residential building which are managed and operated as a single business and the whole building is owned by the same person. Please note, serviced apartments are defined in the Order.
  • Health and care accommodation, such as residential care homes, hospitals and nursing homes.
  • Educational accommodation, such as residential schools, colleges, training centres and purpose-built student accommodation. Student halls of residence, for example, are excluded but houses and flats which are normally let to students are not excluded.
  • Secure residential accommodation, including prisons, young offenders institutions, detention centres, secure training centres, custody centres, short-term holding centres, secure hospitals, secure local authority accommodation or military barracks.
  • Hostels and refuges. A hostel provides residential accommodation and food, or shared facilities to prepare it, other than in a house. Refuges include accommodation for women escaping domestic violence, for example.
  • Shift accommodation.  Accommodation owned by an employer and provided to an employee in terms of a contract of employment or for the better performance of the employee's duties. This excludes accommodation provided by companies and other bodies to employees as part of a contract or to help them perform their duties. For example, caretakers or workers on an oil rig (insofar as the accommodation is within Scottish territorial waters), where shifts extend into multiple days.
    Excluded property extends to property which is part of any of the above. So, for example, self-catering property in the grounds of a licensed hotel would also be excluded.
  • Excluded Tenancies, the Order also excludes some types of tenancy. A full list can be found here.  

Planning Permission

You may require planning permission to change a flat or a dwellinghouse to short-term commercial visitor accommodation or, obtain a certificate of lawfulness (existing or proposed) confirming you do not need planning permission.  Obtaining planning permission or a certificate can take some time.

You must check whether you need planning permission before you apply for a short-term let licence.  You can do this by applying for a certificate of lawfulness for either existing or proposed development here  If you do need planning permission, you must  apply for this before you make an application for a short-term let licence.  .  

Building Warrant

You may require a building warrant for your premises.  A building warrant is normally required if you intend to erect, alter, extend, demolish or change the use of any building.  A building warrant gives you permission for the design and construction of the work and includes things like fire protection, and escape, drainage, energy conservation and safety and wellbeing of occupants.  Building regulations make sure that the work meets minimum standards.  You can find more information about building warrants here.  

Applying for a Short-term Let Licence

We are in the process of developing a fully online licence process that will be automated as far as possible.  The new online system will be faster, easier for our customers to use, and allow us to process applications more quickly.  We expect to have it available soon and will continue to update this page.  Please be patient and watch out for the new online licence process.  If you sign up to our list below, we will notify you directly as soon as the new system is online and ready to go.

The Council has prepared a checklist intended to provide a helpful starting point for checking you have the relevant information required in order to submit an application for a short-term let licence.  You are required to submit a signed copy of the checklist with your Application Form.

Before completing an Application Form, please read our Guidance Notes for further help and information.

All applicants must complete the Council’s Checklist, Application Form and Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Checklist.  The completed application form together with all supporting documents should either be submitted online by emailing licensing@moray.gov.uk or by post to Moray Council Licensing Team, Council Offices, High Street, Elgin, IV30 1BX.  

Applicants should pay the application fee online, by telephone or by cheque made payable to The Moray Council.  You can find out more information about how to pay your licence fee here

Full payment of the application fee should be made at the same time the completed application is submitted to the Council.  A schedule setting out all Council fees relevant to short-term let licences can be found here

You can find Word and PDF versions of all the short-term let licence application documents here:-

Please note, an application will not be processed until all necessary information has been provided and the fee paid.  Unless and until a valid application is received the application will not be considered to have been made at all.

What happens to my application for a short-term let licence?

You can find a copy of our short-term lets licensing scheme process here.  

After submitting your application please refer to the online facility to check and track your application.

How long does the Council have to determine my application?

We have 12 months (beginning on receipt of a valid application) to determine applications from existing hosts/operators who make an application before 1 April 2023.  

In all other cases, we have 9 months from the date a valid application is made to us to consider and ultimately determine each application for a short-term let licence.

Although we have the above timescales to determine your application by law, we aim to deal with all applications as soon as possible.  

More Information

We’ve prepared a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) which you can access here.  A copy of the Scottish Government Guidance for hosts and operators which you may also find helpful can be found here.  

If you have any other questions about short-term let licences, not covered in our FAQs or Scottish Government Guidance, you can email them to licensing@moray.gov.uk.

If you would like to receive email notifications directly from us about short-term lets licensing, you can sign up here.  

Data Processing

A copy of our Data Protection Privacy Notice for short-term lets can be found here.  The Council’s normal data processing notice applies. The Council follows a statutory process for licence applications and sharing data (including any sensitive personal data) both internally and externally is a necessary part of that process. Internal agencies are other Council services e.g. Planning, Building Standards and Environmental Health. External agencies include Police Scotland, The Scottish Fire & Rescue Service and the public. Consultation on a licence application will include the exchange of personal information and sensitive personal information where necessary as part of the statutory process. Reports will be received by post and/or a secure method of electronic exchange. The Council will retain electronic and paper records in accordance with their records management procedures. Data subjects will have the right of access to personal data under the DPA.  By applying for the licence you agree to all consultations as described.

Complaints

If you are a guest and want to complain, you should raise your complaint with the host/operator, letting agency or platform in the first instance.  If after doing so, you remain unsatisfied or the issue is sufficiently grave, you may contact us.

Complaints about hosts/operators will be considered under powers in the Act (for example from neighbours).  We will try to resolve a complaint through engagement with the host/operator in the first instance.  If this is not successful, then we will use the procedures under the Act.  

We can consider matters relating to the suitability of the licence holder, threats to public safety or public order or whether a condition of the licence has been contravened.   These issues would include a host/operator exceeding the number of people staying at the premises, serious disturbance or antisocial behaviour or concerns about the maintenance and safety of the premises.  

Complaints can be directed to licensing@moray.gov.uk and will be acknowledged within five working days.  

If a letting agency or platform has concerns about a breach of licence conditions for premises located in Moray (e.g. bookings being taken for numbers of guests that exceed the maximum occupancy), they are expected to report these to us.  

Complaints about suspected unlicensed hosts/operators should be directed to Police Scotland.

We will not consider complaints in relation to the quality of a guest’s stay or specific contractual matters between the guest and the host/operator as this is outside the scope of the licensing scheme.

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