Local councils will be given new powers to licence and limit the number of short-term lets, such as AirBnB.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has backed this announcement from the Scottish Government.

A recent study commissioned by the Scottish Government into AirBnB showed that the Western Isles had the second greatest increase in registered properties behind only Edinburgh.

The number of short-term lets in Scotland has risen dramatically in recent years – but evidence shows that in many tourist hotspots, people are finding it increasingly hard to find homes to live in.

Speaking in Holyrood on Wednesday, Housing Minister Kevin Stewart outlined the SNP’s plans to establish a licensing scheme for short-term lets and a review of the tax paid by the properties – as well handing councils the power to introduce ‘short-term let control areas’ where the number of AirBnB and similar properties can be restricted through planning permission.

In a question to the Housing Minister, Alasdair Allan highlighted the regional discrepancies in the issues associated with short-term lets and said that further regulation was needed for parts of the Western Isles.

Alasdair Allan MSP said:“It is important that we strike a balance between the economic benefits of tourism to Scotland and the impact on local communities.

“In parts of the Western Isles short-term lets are having an impact on the local housing market and restricting the number of properties available for those looking for a home to live in. The proposals announced by the Scottish Government will give Comhairle nan Eilean Siar new powers to control the number of short-term lets in the local community and ensure they make a fair contribution to the services they use.

“I would urge the Comhairle to make use of these powers. We are already approaching the situation in some parts of the islands where whole villages could be full in the summer and virtually empty for six months of the year. We need to ensure that villages are not transformed from communities into resorts in the space of just a few years.”