Short term lets licence

Argyll and Bute has a licence scheme in place for short term lets, as required by Scottish Government legislation. If you are starting up a short term let business, or are already running one, here is information on what you should do to ensure you are operating legally.

Due to a late surge of nearly a thousand Short Term Let (STL) applications, the current average processing time for applications is up to 24 weeks. Existing STL hosts (operating prior to the 1 October 2022) who submitted their applications and paid their fees by 1st October 2023 can continue to operate until their application is determined, although new hosts require to be licensed before operating. We would therefore be grateful if applicants did not contact us to simply chase progress updates, as this diverts resources from processing outstanding applications.


The council has now received confirmation from the Scottish Government that on 1 March 2023 the Scottish Parliament approved a six month extension to the deadline for existing hosts to apply for a short term let licence.  Existing hosts must now apply for a licence prior to 1 October 2023 and can continue operating while their application is being determined.

All hosts should now apply as soon as practicable and not wait until the deadline before submitting their applications.

You can find out more about the legislation and read the Scottish Government guidance for hosts and operators at  Visit Scotland also provides information on its website.

Read our Short Term Lets FAQ’s

Public Register of Short-term let licences

Benefits of the licensing scheme

We developed Argyll and Bute’s licensing scheme with feedback from local businesses and communities. The aim of the scheme overall is to ensure a safe experience for visitors that will encourage them to return to the area, and to support the interests of local communities.

Who should apply now for a short term lets licence?

It is important for potential licence applicants to determine if they require a Short Term Lets licence, as there are a number of exemptions: see our exemption checklist and the Scottish Government Guidance.

From 1st October 2022, brand new short term let businesses and existing ones offering additional new accommodation MUST legally have a licence before operating, or they could face a fine of up to £2,500.

All hosts should now apply as soon as practicable and not wait until the deadline before submitting their applications.

When should existing short term lets businesses apply?

Existing hosts should now apply for a licence as soon as practicable and not wait until the deadline before submitting their applications.  Existing hosts will only be able to continue operating after the deadline if their licence application has been received prior to 1 October 2023  and their application is being determined.

Temporary licences

The Council has agreed that Temporary Licences can be issued for the purposes of allowing licenced STL businesses to continue operating when being sold from one operator to another. A temporary licence will last for up to 6 weeks and is not able to be renewed.  If you wish to continue operating for longer than the 6 week period, you must submit a separate application for a full licence. This allows you, as the new owner to continue operating on a temporary licence until the full licence application is determined. The fee for a 6 week temporary licence is 50% of the full licence fee applicable to your letting circumstances.

You are required to meet the Mandatory Licence conditions for a Temporary Licence. The documents required to be submitted should be provided to you when short term let accommodation changes hands. A Temporary Licence is not generally available for new premises but may be applicable to 'home share' or 'home let' new premises who want to provide accommodation for less than 6 weeks on a trial basis.

During the implementation period of the Short Term Let Licensing Scheme the Council are currently prioritising full licence applications, any existing businesses should apply for a full licence as an existing business.

How to apply for a licence

Customers should apply for a Short Term Lets licence online using the link below. A number of pieces of evidence must be submitted with the licence application, so we strongly advise that before beginning the application process all applicants refer to our pre-application checklist or the Scottish Government's checklist to ensure they have gathered the appropriate information. You can read our useful information for supporting documents here.  Failure to submit the relevant documents will result in application delay. You may also wish to refer to the Scottish Government information on how to apply for a short term let licence On completion of the application form you will be prompted to pay for your licence application.

Apply for a Short Term Lets Licence

Please do not use the Landlord Registration process for short term let related licence applications as Landlord Registration is a separate scheme.

Planning permission: You will not need to provide proof of planning permission to apply for this licence; however it is your responsibility to ensure you have any necessary planning permission in place.

Fire Safety is a mandatory aspect of the licence and the Scottish Fire Service has produced a Fire Safety Checklist that should be completed and submitted with your Application Form

After submitting your application:

Public notice of application.  - This notice must be displayed on or near the short-term let property in a position where it can be easily read by the public for a period of 21 days from the date the application was lodged with the Licensing Authority.

Certificate of Compliance (.docx file)  -  This certificate must be completed by the applicant and returned to the Licensing Authority at the end of the 21 day display period.

The information you supply on these forms will be used for the purpose for which you have provided it, and appropriate measures are in place to protect your personal data.  A full privacy notice, which provides information about your rights under current data protection legislation and details about what will happen to your personal data can be found here:

3 year licence fees

Licences are normally valid for three years. The fees are set simply to recover all costs occurred by the Council in providing the licensing scheme service. The fees equate to £80 annually for a small bed and breakfast with less than 4 guests; and £160 annually for a self-catering property for 6 guests.

Guest capacity applied for (including children under the age of 10) Home sharing or home letting  3 year licence Secondary letting 3 year licence
Up to 4 £239.55 £334.95
5 to 8 £334.95 £479.10
9 to 12 £526.80 £718.70
13 to 20 £671 £958.25
21 and over £862.85 £1197.80

The following describes each short term lets category:

Home Sharing - means using all or part of your own home for short-term lets whilst you are there

Home Letting - means using all or part of your own home for short-term lets whilst you are absent

Secondary Letting - means a short-term let involving the letting of property where you do not normally live, for example a second home

Why have the fees been set at this rate?

The fees have been calculated to cover the costs of the council to deliver this new Government legislation including administration and staff costs. Each fee paid covers a three-year period and has been benchmarked against other licensing fees for comparable businesses. 

Further information

The following types of accommodation could all be considered a short-term let:

  • B&B and guesthouse
  • Boat (if static and not used for transportation)
  • Boathouse
  • Cabin
  • Castle
  • Chalet
  • Cottage
  • Exclusive use venue where accommodation is provided (without a liquor licence: Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005)
  • Farmhouse
  • Holiday caravan or glamping pod (without a caravan site licence: Caravan sites and Control of Development Act 1960)
  • Lighthouse
  • Lodge
  • Self-catering unit / holiday let
  • Serviced apartment – on its own, or up to four in a building
  • Shared home or rooms within a home
  • Shepherd hut
  • Tent, tipi or wigwam
  • Treehouse
  • Yurt

For more information and a list of exclusions please see the Scottish Government Guidance and our exemption checklist.

If you have an enquiry about the Short Term Lets Licensing please use this online form to submit it, but we respectfully ask that you read the Scottish Government Guidance and the Visit Scotland Webpage in the first instance for the answer to your queries. Our licensing team will be working hard to process customer applications

Argyll and Bute Council Policy Statement: This policy, approved by Council on the 29 September 2022, details the policies and procedures relating to the licensing scheme, including mandatory and additional conditions. Our Short Term Lets Licensing Policy is currently under review following the legal ruling of the Edinburgh Judicial Review and updated Scottish Government Guidance on Short Term Let Licensing. 

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