MSP calls on Highlanders to speak out as new AirBnB-style short-term licensing consultation kicks off as many fear tourist accommodation will deplete available housing stock and lead to depopulation

Highland MSP and Finance Secretary Kate Forbes.

The Highlanders have been called to participate in a consultation on vacation home rentals in the area, amid concerns that prices for AirBnB-style rentals may be excluded from the market.

Highlands Finance and MSP Secretary Kate Forbes says it is essential that residents are heard and that any debate on the issue is solidly based on the facts.

The Scottish Government’s latest consultation on short-term rentals aims to ensure that local authorities have the necessary powers to balance the needs and concerns of their communities with broader economic and tourism interests.

The Highlands have been hit particularly hard by the boom in tourism-related vacation rentals, which typically make more money than long-term property rentals, but also shrink the local housing stock.

It has been argued that this practice contributes to a process of depopulation which destroys many communities in the Highlands.

A previous consultation attracted over 1000 responses and in order to further examine the proposed legislation, a stakeholder group was established.

Their recommendations led to further improvements which are the basis of the new commitment.

Ms Forbes said: “As a result of the last round of consultations, when I was contacted by dozens of voters, I am well aware of the strength of sentiment regarding the debate in the short term.

“Although this is a complex and multifaceted problem with no easy answers, I hope the debate will focus on facts rather than unfounded fears.

“Also, if we are serious about tackling the housing crisis in the West Highlands, I think this needs to be a much broader discussion than before.”

She added: “I encourage all interested to take the time to fully read the proposals and to make their voices heard.”

Responses can only be submitted online and interested parties have until August 13 to contribute.

Related Article – Concerns Remain Among Highland Bed and Breakfast Operators Over Short-Term Rentals Act

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