By Victoria Weldon

Tourism groups are calling on the Scottish Government to exempt serviced apartments from new licensing plans for short-term lets.

The Association of Serviced Apartment Providers (ASAP), the Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA) and UK Hospitality Scotland want aparthotels and managed serviced apartments to be treated in the same way as guest houses and hostels.

In a letter to Kevin Stewart, minister for local government, housing and planning, they claim including such properties in the licensing plans could results in unnecessary extra costs for businesses.

A Scottish Government consultation on short-term lets came to an end on Friday. Ministers plan to introduce a mandatory licensing scheme to ensure safety and to help address the problems faced by local communities over-populated by such accommodation.

James Foice, chief executive of the Association of Serviced Apartment Providers, said the government consultation failed to distinguish between managed serviced accommodation and private home rentals.

“The definition of short-term lets in the Scottish Government consultation fails to recognise that aparthotel/managed service apartments are a distinct operation compared with independently owned private flats/housing rentals being targeted by the Scottish Government,” he said.

“Scottish Assessors class aparthotels/serviced apartments in the same manner as hotels for business rates and they are yet to be further burdened by these unfair additional regulations.

“As we recover economically from COVID-19, it is high-quality operations such as these that will be to the fore in helping the tourism industry recover from the pandemic.

“We appeal to the Scottish Government to rethink this approach and to highlight the unintended consequences its proposals will have on aparthotel/managed serviced apartment operations.”

The tourism groups claim that they are already fully compliant with existing health and safety measures, including fire risk assessments, gas and electrical safety.

The letter calls for the Scottish Government to make exemptions for “whole-block residential building, entirely owned, leased, managed or operated by a single company”.

Or, alternatively, for managed serviced apartments to be classed as class 7 use, which includes hotels, hostels and guest houses.

If passed by Parliament, the new regulations will come into force by April 2021.

Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning, Kevin Stewart said he would respond to the letter ind ue course.

He said: “Our consultation on detailed proposals for the regulation of short-term lets in Scotland closed on 16 October.

“The total number of responses received by the final deadline was more than 1,000.

“We will carefully consider responses to the consultation ahead of laying regulations giving local authorities powers to license short-term lets and introduce control in Parliament in December.

“We have received the letter, and will respond shortly.

“Our proposals will allow local authorities and communities facing the most severe pressures to take action to manage those more effectively.

“Subject to the approval of the Scottish Parliament, the licensing scheme and control area regulations will come into force by April 2021. However, local authorities will have until April 2022 to establish a licensing scheme in their area and open it to receive applications.

“The proposals will not unduly curtail the many benefits of short-term lets to hosts, visitors and the Scottish economy.”

When the consultation launched, Mr Stewart said the aim was to “allow local authorities to ensure a safe, quality experience for visitors, whilst protecting the interests of local communities”.