Roddick slams landlord Highland councillors’ “shameful” conflict of interest

Emma stands in a Holyrood corridor smiling into the camera

Highlands and Islands MSP Emma Roddick has reacted to a Highland Council debate on a motion opposing short-term let regulation which was led by a short-term let owner, describing it as “shameful at best”.

The motion at Thursday’s council meeting sought to back proposals from the Association of Scottish Self-Caterers (ASSC) to limit regulation of holiday homes in Scotland and passed following a vote by councillors.

The ASSC oppose the Scottish Government’s proposed new short-term let licensing scheme which aims to tackle as-yet-uncontrolled growth of these types of properties and their impact on homelessness, depopulation, and currently extortionate house prices.

Roddick said:

“It is deeply uncomfortable to me to witness a debate on short-term lets licensing in the Highland Council led by councillors with financial interests through short-term let ownership. This is shameful at best and potentially corrupt.

“The protectionist ASSC proposals would allow anyone with a website to be exempt from licensing – meaning anyone with access to the internet can be exempt through the ten-minute creation of a free website.

“Sky-rocketing house prices and numbers of short-term lets go hand-in-hand in the Highlands, and getting on top of this is crucial to tackling depopulation.

“It is outrageous that landlord councillors with a clear financial interest have voted to protect their own bank accounts from a small license fee rather than pursue the interests of their constituents – hundreds of whom are currently homeless or struggling to find an affordable place to live.”

Screenshot excerpt from the ASSC proposals for short-term lets licensing. For screenreaders, it reads: “Businesses must be able to meet and evidence the following eligibility criteria: 1. Confirm that the business meets the definition of a self-catering property as defined in the Council Tax (Dwellings and Part Residential Subjects) (Scotland) Regulations 1992 or confirm that the business premises operates as a guesthouse, bed & breakfast, or similar small serviced accommodation. 2. Provide evidence of membership, accreditation, registration or listing with a recognised hospitality or tourism agency, representative body or marketing organisation; national or local (for example, VisitScotland, Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers, your local Destination Marketing Organisation, AA, Quality in Tourism etc.: or web presence via your own website. Online booking platform listing alone is not accepted as evidence.