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.

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.

To allow these new short term let businesses/accomodations to begin operating, we are prioritising their applications until the end of 2022. Existing short term lets businesses already trading have until the end of March 2023 to apply.

When should existing short term lets businesses apply?

Existing Short Term Let businesses can apply for a licence after 1st October 2022, but we encourage them to wait until after 1st January 2023 for the following reasons:

  • Existing Short term Let Owners have until 1st April 2023 to apply for a licence and can continue to trade until 1st July 2023 while their licence is being determined
  • Priority for the processing of licences is being given to New operators of short term lets businesses started after 1st October 2022 as legally they cannot trade until they have been awarded a licence, wheras existing businesses are able to trade.
  • A new team is being established by the council to manage the new short term let licence requirement and it will be fully resourced by January 2023; hence applicants will receive the optimal service after that date

Temporary licences

The Council has agreed that Temporary Licences can be issued for the purposes of allowing existing or 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 advise the Council and your application will be considered 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.

To apply for a temporary licence complete the online application as if for a full licence and the 50% fee will be reimbursed from the initial full fee paid on application, where the Council is advised a temporary licence is all that is required. Please request that you wish for a Temporary Licence giving a brief reason on the application form under ‘Additional Information’.

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.

Prospective applicants for temporary licences are advised to make an early application in advance of any new operating date(e.g transfer of ownership etc.) as the timescale for determining an application is likely to take a minimum of 6 weeks.

How to apply for a licence

Customers can only 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 our pre-application checklist or the Scottish Government's checklist to ensure thay have gathered the appropriate information. Failure to submit the relevant documents will result in application delay.

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

You will also have to prove you have the necessary safeguards in place. Please refer to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for guidance on Legionella and landlords’ responsibilities.  The Legionella Risk Assessment form is a useful starting point for smaller premises.

An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) gives information on how energy efficient a building is and how it could be improved. If your short term let falls within the criteria you will have to provide evidence of your EPC rating. Please refer to the Scottish Government Guidance for EPCs.

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.

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 £76 annually for a small bed and breakfast with less than 4 guests; and £151 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



5 to 8



9 to 12



13 to 20



21 and over




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. The policy will be regularly reviewed.