Coronavirus and Edinburgh HMO licence applications update

Higher Edinburgh HMO application fees and Covid-19 delays

The recent Coronavirus pandemic may increase average processing times for HMO licence application. The Edinburgh Council’s 249 High Street office has been closed since 22.03.2020. Licensing team members have been working from home, with email and website being their preferred contact methods.

Although the average timescale has not (yet) officially been changed (it still says 141 days), it would be unrealistically to assume that the onset of Covid-19 and resulting home-working revolution will not have any effect on HMO applications processing times, at least short term. Some HMO decisions require co-operation of different people and different departments – and now all of them work from home. It seems that many applications were put on hold (even ones cleared by HMO inspectors, for which we expected to be granted licences a few weeks ago).

In our opinion, new applications will most likely be delayed. As all non-emergency inspections are discouraged by both the British and Scottish governments, it is hard to envision routine HMO inspections being carried out. Just imagine: three or four different council inspectors, add a property manager/letting agent or a landlord into the mix and throw in some tenants. It would be nearly impossible to ensure that they adhere to the social distancing rules! This is why we recommend to lodge all HMO applications, both new and renewals, well in advance.

New increased HMO application fees

Many councils and public bodies increase their fees every April and Edinburgh Council followed suit with across-the- board 10% increases (at least for the most popular licenses of between 3 and 6 tenants). The fees for the most typical applications are, as of April 2020:
  • 3 tenants – £594 (from £540, 10% increase)
  • 3 tenants – £594 (from £540, 10% increase)
  • 5 tenants £990 (from £900, 10% increase)
  • 6 tenant £1243 (from £1130, 10% increase)