Short-Term Lets Legislation

On 19 January 2022, the Scottish Government passed the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 (Licensing of Short-term Lets) Order 2022. All local authorities are required to operate a licencing scheme for short-term lets and have a new power which allows the introduction of planning control areas. Additionally, within the licencing process there is a requirement to have planning permission in place for the property, whether within a planning control area or not, e.g. where a property would have been traditionally residential (e.g. owner occupied or let on a 6 or 12 month basis) and is now or will be used for short-term letting.

Licensing of Short-term Lets

If you operated a short-term let on or before 30 September 2022 you must apply for a licence by 1 October 2023. You can continue to host guests and take bookings while your application is being processed.

From 1 October 2022, if you are looking to run a short-term let for the first time you need to have a licence before you can begin operating. This also applies to existing operators who want to establish additional/new short-term let accommodation. 

There are four types of licence for short-term let accommodation:

  • Secondary letting - the letting of property where you do not normally live, for example a second home that is let to guests
  • Home letting - using all or part of your own home for short-term lets, whilst you are absent. An example of this could be whilst you are on holiday
  • Home sharing - using all or part of your own home for short-term lets, whilst you are there
  • Home letting and home sharing – operating short-term lets from your own home while you are living there and for periods when you are absent

For information on applying for a short-term let licence to operate in East Lothian read more on our Short-term Lets Licencing page.

Planning permission for Short-term Lets

In addition to the new duty of licencing, local authorities may also designate short-term let Planning Control Areas (PCAs).  East Lothian Council does not have any plans for PCAs at this time. However, you will need to check if your particular property needs planning permission to be used to provide short-term lets.  Planning permission is required for the use of a property as a short-term let if a material change of use occurs, e.g. to change a residential property's use to short-term commercial visitor accommodation. The planning requirement is likely to apply to those properties already operating as short-term lets (retrospective permission) as well as properties new to short-term letting.

For properties that have already been operating for a number of years you may be able to apply for a Certificate of Lawfulness for Existing Use.

Your licence application will require you to provide evidence that you:

  1. have planning permission, or
  2. have a Certificate of Lawfulness for Existing Use confirming you do not need planning permission

Planning guidance for owners and operators of short-term lets is provided by the Scottish Government here: Scottish Government Short-term Lets Planning Guidance

To ascertain whether you require planning permission please contact the East Lothian Planning Department at or on 01620 827216 for further information.

To check whether you need a licence you can use the Scottish Government short-term lets information here Scottish Government Short-term Lets

Generally the following types of accommodation will require a licence:

  • houses and flats, including studio flats and other subdivisions
  • cottage, farmhouse, or castle
  • B&B and guesthouse
  • boat (if static and not used for transportation)
  • lighthouse, boathouse, cabin, lodge, or chalet
  • exclusive use venue where accommodation is provided (without a liquor licence: Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005)
  • holiday caravan which cannot be moved or on-site glamping pod without a caravan site licence: Caravan sites and Control of Development Act 1960
  • shepherd hut, tent, tipi, wigwam, yurt, or treehouse
  • any other self-catering unit / holiday let, including time-share self-catering units
  • serviced apartment, meaning a flat or residential unit in respect of which:
    1. hosts provide services to guests (such as housekeeping, a telephone desk, reception, or laundry)
    2. each flat or unit contains its own washing, cooking and dining facilities separate from each of the other flats or units
    3. a management system prevents anti-social behaviour and imposes limits to the maximum occupancy of the flats or units
  • shared home or rooms within a home

If you offer short-term lets within a House of Multiple Occupations (HMO), you will also need a short-term let licence in addition to your HMO licence. Unless you operate a short-term let for less than six weeks when you might be able to apply for a temporary exemption.

You can find out all you need to know about the Short-term Lets Licencing Scheme on the Scottish Government website:

You can find out how to apply for a licence and what is required in East Lothian here:

East Lothian Council Short-term Lets Licencing

The fee for each licence is £390.00 (correct at 12 September 2023) per annum.  You need a licence for each property.

You may find the information here East Lothian Tourism Economy helpful when you are preparing your application. You can email if you require more information on the value of the tourism economy to the area.

You should also refer to previous applications and their outcomes which can assist you in preparing your application and supporting statements. East Lothian Council Planning Applications