Fife Council to reassure students on HMO charges
Fife Council is to contact student representatives from the University of St Andrews this week to explain the need for an increase in charges for HMO licenses - and that there should be no need to pass on any increase in fees, to students who are concerned about rent rises.
Every HMO (house of multiple occupancy) needs a licence to make sure health and safety standards are met for residents. The council has recently updated the charging structure for licenses, bringing it into line with other local authorities, and making sure the increasing costs of administering the system were not passed on to taxpayers.
Fees have not been increased since 2006.
John Mills, head of the council’s housing service, explained: “The new charging structure now covers the full cost of the HMO licensing service, including administration, property inspections and verification, democracy and compliance costs. We’ve moved from a flat-based fee structure to one that takes account of the number of occupants in an HMO, and the resources spent on each application through a sliding scale of charges.
“Concerns have been raised that this will lead to rent rises for students. It’s important to note that any rises in rent are at the discretion of the University, and there is nothing to suggest that a rise in the fees the council charges for HMO licenses should be passed on to students. Any charges are a very small proportion of the rental income received by HMO owners.”
Based on 2020-21 resident fees for University of St Andrews accommodation, if five students are sharing under-graduate self-catering accommodation the rental charges will be £106,095 over three years (five students x £7,073 p.a. x three years).
This compares to HMO licensing fee costs, including discount, of £1,332 over three-years or 1.26% of rental income. Under a range of scenarios, HMO licensing costs present a minimal financial burden to HMO owners.
Mr Mills added: “I would urge any parents or students who are concerned about a potential rise in rents to raise this directly with the University, as the organisation deciding how much should be charged for student housing.”