Scotland’s impending licensing regime for short-term lets, set to commence next month, faces criticism from various tourism and property organizations, including the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers (ASSC). The legislation mandates all short-term rentals, encompassing self-catering, B&Bs, home-swapping, and room rentals within properties, to obtain a license for operation. Adrienne Carmichael, the head of the ASSC, has expressed concerns to First Minister Humza Yousaf, suggesting that these proposals might infringe upon the European Convention on Human Rights and privacy/data protection laws.
Adrienne Carmichael highlights concerns over the STL licensing requirements that necessitate applicants to publicly disclose personal data on application notices and council licensing registers. She suggests that such disclosures may run afoul of Article 8 of the ECHR, the Scotland Act 1998, the General Data Protection Regulation, and the Data Protection Act. Carmichael also points out the lack of substantial evidence regarding data privacy impact assessments by licensing authorities. Some operators, particularly those with backgrounds in security services and law enforcement, are reportedly reluctant to expose their personal information to public scrutiny through licensing applications due to perceived risks to themselves and their loved ones.
Fiona Campbell, the chief executive at the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers, expresses concerns about the Scottish Government’s approach to legislation. She calls for a pause in the implementation of the licensing scheme and emphasizes the need for a comprehensive review before any irreparable consequences occur. Campbell highlights the negative impact on the self-catering sector, stating that it feels unfairly targeted within Scotland’s crucial tourism industry.
She mentions that when they have attempted to criticize the shortcomings of the licensing legislation, they have often faced increased threats and harassment. Campbell shares a personal experience of being assaulted in 2018 and enduring ongoing harassment from neighbors due to her efforts to support her family through her business. She notes that many ASSC members are hesitant to provide personal details on license applications due to fears of potential attacks, despite being legitimate operators of small accommodation businesses that contribute significantly to the tourism sector.
The Scottish Government responds to the concerns raised by the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers (ASSC) by emphasizing the importance of maintaining high-quality standards in regulating the short-term let sector. They mention that local councils have been implementing licensing schemes since October 2022, and many short-term let hosts have already acquired licenses.
The government further notes that six impact assessments, including a Data Protection Impact Assessment, were conducted and made public as part of the 2020 consultation on the scheme. They state that they will provide a response to the ASSC in the future, indicating a commitment to addressing the raised issues and concerns.
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