Short Term Let

PLANNING AND SHORT TERM LETS
BACKGROUND


Alongside the licensing controls that are being introduced, new planning legislation has resulted in tighter planning controls over short term lets. Local Planning Authorities now have the power to designate Short Term Let Control Areas (STLCA) within part or the whole of their Council area.

Within STLCAs all short term lets properties within those designated areas now need to have planning permission. Many properties currently used as short term lets may have always needed planning permission, but this has never been rigorously enforced by most Councils. Therefore, even those short term lets operating outwith designated STLCAs may require planning permission. This is a judgment by the Council for each individual property based upon whether it has resulted in a material change of use of the property.

The first STLCA in Scotland has been designated within Edinburgh. In June, the Highland Council agreed to proceed with the designation of an STLCA in Badenoch and Strathspey. The proposed STLCA will now be submitted to the Scottish Government for approval. Other Councils are also considering the designation of STLCAs in their areas.

Licensing for all short term lets is due to commence on 1 October 2022 across Scotland and they must be applied for by 1 April 2023 to continue letting. The integral link between the two controls of licensing and planning is the grant of the license can be held back whilst planning permissions are obtained. Without a licence a property cannot continue to operate as a short term let. It is therefore important to ensure planning permission is in place.

PLANNING PROCESSES

There are two processes in place to ensure a short term let is lawful for planning purposes:
• Certificate of Lawfulness
• Planning Permission

Certificate of Lawfulness

If sufficient evidence is available, a Certificate of Lawfulness can be sought from the Council. A Certificate of Lawfulness is effectively an immunity certificate against enforcement and certifies that the use of the property is lawful for planning purposes. In these circumstances, a Certificate will be sufficient to allow compliance with the licensing requirements.

To obtain a Certificate of Lawfulness, it is required to prove ten years continuous use at the date of submission. Whilst every Council will be different in its requirements in terms of what is adequate proof, it is usually necessary to rely upon various evidence rather than one piece of evidence.

Planning Permission

If it is unlikely that sufficient evidence exists for a Certificate of Lawfulness, the property has only been in use as a short term let for less than 10 years, or this is a new proposal not yet started, then full planning permission would be required from the Council. This application process would be appropriate if a material change of use has occurred or the property is within a STLCA.

Requirements for planning applications may vary across Council areas and it is important to check those before making an application. The issues they may consider will also vary dependent upon the reasoning for the designation. However, one issue which will always be considered will be residential amenity, i.e., whether the use as a short term let is or will have a detrimental impact upon the occupants of neighbouring residential properties. For larger properties in congested areas previously occupied by one family and now used by groups of people, parking and road safety may also be an issue.

Currently, The Highland Council has not yet set out the criteria for assessment of planning applications in their area. Once it has been published, this web page will be updated.

CONCLUSION

STLCAs are in the pipeline across Scotland. If you own a short term let property it is important to keep well informed and up to date as these proceed in your area to ensure that your licensing application is not affected or delayed due to planning processes.

Specific to Badenoch and Strathspey STLCA. This has not yet been designated and there remains uncertainty regarding the requirements for either the Certificate of Lawfulness or planning application submission. However, if the designation is agreed by the Scottish Government, what is certain is that there will be a significant volume of application submissions to the Highland Council with inherent delays. It is therefore important to anticipate the likelihood of designation and get ready for your planning submission: whether this be collecting evidence for a Certificate or collecting supporting information for a planning application.

If you need further advice on the planning processes and or assistance in making your applications for either a Certificate or a Planning Application, please contact us.
We can offer a range of planning services to assist you. These include a planning advice service for those who wish to do most of the work themselves but just need a helping hand, but also a full planning service for those who just want someone to deal with the whole planning process.