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There was a frantic rush of applications under the new Short-term Let Licensing laws during September as the October 1 deadline neared…and it became clear that campaigns nationally for a further delay in implementation were going to fail.

Across the Western Isles, there were over 450 applications submitted in September with more than 200 submitted in the week prior to 1 October.

Back in March, CnES forecast that there would be about 600 applications – in fact, there have been 963.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar say: “We have received a high volumes of applications prior to the deadline of 1 October 2023 and staff are currently working their way through these applications and the associated correspondence and calls. 

“As of 6 October 2023, there are over 170 applications that we have not begun processing. We would therefore be grateful if applicants did not contact us to simply chase progress updates, as this diverts resources from processing outstanding applications. 

“We will not be issuing new licences until the middle of October as we are concentrating on getting applications to a “Pending Determination” status. 

“If your application is "Pending Determination" you can use the number you were issued until we determine your licence.

“Scottish Government Guidance explains councils must issue a provisional licence number as soon as reasonably practicable. This was by design recognising that, with the high volumes of applications anticipated at the end of September, councils will not be able to issue provisional licence numbers immediately.

“The Scottish Government have discussed this with vrbo, Airbnb, STAA and booking.com recognising these platforms may ask existing hosts for their provisional licence on or after 1 October, as evidence they have complied with legal requirements in order to continue operating while their application is being determined.

“The Scottish Government have suggested platforms accept ‘council application acknowledgements’ from hosts as evidence they’ve applied before 1 October, until an existing host receives their provisional licence number, as a pragmatic solution to enable hosts to demonstrate they have complied during the short period before their provisional licence is issued. There has been no indication from the platforms that this will be an issue.

“Please note that unless hosts applied and paid for their application prior to 1 October 2023, they will not be considered as an existing operator and will not be able to take bookings legally until they have a full licence.”