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Changes to HMO licensing in Edinburgh - what is the new process?

The City of Edinburgh Council has recently amended the application process for HMO licences. Further changes are being considered and views sought from stakeholders.

As of 1 November 2016 applicants for either a new grant or a ‘renewal’ of an existing HMO licence now need to lodge the following additional documents in support of their application:

  • Annual Gas Certificate (for properties with a gas supply);
  • Current Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR);
  • Annual Emergency Lighting Certificate;
  • Annual Portable Appliance Test Certificate (PAT);
  • Annual Fire Appliances Certificate or current invoice;
  • Annual Part 1 Fire Alarm System Certificate; and
  • Annual Sprinkler System Inspection Certificate in accordance with BS9251.

These are all documents that a responsible licence holder should have and so this requirement should not be overly burdensome. But it is important to note that an application will not be accepted as complete or processed until the Council is in receipt of all of the above documents. This is extremely important when lodging a renewal application for an existing HMO licensed property.

Failure to have the application accepted before the expiry date of the existing HMO licence could see that licence fall. Assuming there are sitting tenants in the premises, the property would effectively be unlicensed and breaking the law.  This would prejudice the premises' ability to function as a HMO and the landlord could be committing a criminal offence and face a fine of up to £50,000.

In addition , there may be further changes on the horizon as the Council is proposing to move from annual licences to three-year licences. This would see the fee structure change.

The move to a three-year licence would bring  Edinburgh in line with many other Scottish local authorities and will hopefully reduce the burden on licence holders having to renew every year. The reassessment of the fee structure is, of course, linked to the possibility of longer licences but it will also examine the effectiveness of discounts offered to HMOs operated by educational institutes.

A consultation  on the duration of licences and the fees payable is now live.  You have until 30 November 2016 to respond and you can email your comments directly to the Edinburgh Council licensing team.

Contributor: Michael McDougall 

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