In a worrying development Fife Council has moved its charges from a flat-based fee structure to take into account the number of occupants, increasing its licensing charges from £54,000 to £512,000 for St Andrews University.

Landlords who fear some councils are increasing their HMO licencing fees sharply should take note from Fife council, which has hiked its charges for licensing properties to one landlord nearly ten-fold.

Fife Council has recently moved from a flat-based fee structure for licenses to take into account the number of occupants in an HMO.

Its new policy includes increasing the fees charges to St Andrews University from £54,000 every three years to £512,000.

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The Student Union says 85% of this fee increase stems from the council’s decision to treat each individual flat, rather than each block, in university student halls’ David Russell Apartments (pictured) as a separate HMO.

Students fear it could lead to them being priced out of university accommodation and moving into private housing.

The university currently holds 332 HMO licences, with the council charging a fee for each individual licence, which should cover administration, visits for inspections and any other costs.

Last year, it rejected proposals to increase the number of HMO licenses in St Andrews, in a bid to encourage the university to build more affordable student accommodation.

Vania Kennedy, council housing service manager, told LandlordZONE: “Our previous HMO charges pre-dated 2006, and needed to be updated. This meant that HMO fee income wasn’t covering the HMO licensing scheme, with council tax payers covering service costs.

“The costs of HMO licensing represent a small percentage of the income that HMO owners will receive through rents and there should be no need to pass on the increase in HMO fees to occupants through rent increases. This is entirely at the discretion of individual HMO owners.”

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