Under-fire Michael Matheson in fresh scandal after breaking own government's law on short-term lets

Published date03 December 2023
Publication titleDaily Record, The / Sunday Mail: Web Edition Articles (Scotland)
Three days after the Sunday Mail revealed ownership of the £200,000 home, ads on rental sites and the property’s own website were then updated with the missing information. Opposition politicians claimed it was another cover-up by Matheson and urged FM Humza Yousaf to finally ditch the under-fire minister

Last month, Matheson was forced to admit that his family ran up an £11,000 data bill watching football matches on holiday, which he initially said was “parliamentary business”.

Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie MSP said: “Once again the embattled Health Minister has found himself at the heart of a scandal. This will pile more pressure on Mr Matheson as his flagrant disregard of his own government’s rules comes to light. It’s time for Michael Matheson to step aside as he is clearly preoccupied when his entire focus should be on tackling the crisis in the NHS.”

The Scottish Government legislation on short-term lets came into force on October 1, 2022, and owners had until October 1, 2023, to obtain a licence to keep operating.

According to the new laws, the homeowner “must ensure that any advert or listing placed on or after you are granted a licence includes your licence number” and all online adverts should be updated with the number “as soon as reasonably practicable after receiving your licence.”

Matheson was granted a temporary licence by Highland Council on September 18, 2023, and according to the law “you should use the temporary licence number or provisional licence number on your advert or listing” if you don’t have a permanent licence.

The legislation says local authorities can take action such as issuing enforcement notices to anyone who is not complying with the new rules. It also states as a “mandatory condition” that you “need to display the EPC rating in all adverts” for short-term lets.

So far, Yousaf has stuck by his health secretary but sources said he was on his “last life” with the First Minister. Matheson’s two-bedroom cottage on Skye makes between £10,000 and £15,000 a year, according to his register of interests, but he claims it doesn’t make a profit due to running costs.

At £875 a week to rent, the home can only be occupied by holidaymakers for a maximum of 17 weeks a year. If so, Matheson is at odds with his own party’s position on second homes.

Chief executive of the Association of Scotland’s Self Caterers ASSC Fiona Campbell said: “While the ASSC have fought the Scottish Government’s erroneous Short Term Let legislation for...

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