What to do with a lapsed HMO license in Edinburgh

What to do with a lapsed HMO license in Edinburgh

How to renew an expired HMO licence

After buying a property with an HMO licence in Edinburgh, you have 1 month to transfer the license, assuming you were a registered Edinburgh landlord on the date of the purchase. What happens if you don’t do it in time? Or if you were not on the Edinburgh Council landlord register when the ownership of the property changed to your name? And how do you apply for a new Edinburgh HMO licence when the previous licence has expired? 

Limited time for an HMO licence transfer

Many property investors actively look for large flats with HMO licenses in place… and then forget to transfer the license and register as a landlord in time. In Edinburgh, new owners have 30 days to apply for a licence transfer. What happens when the landlord applies for a new HMO license if the current license has already expired? Even if the property had a House in Multiple Occupation licence in the past, once it lapses, the property cannot be occupied as an HMO. What does it really mean? Even if all safety certificates are in place; doors have been fire-proofed and supplied with intumescent seals which expand in high temperatures and all bedrooms have smoke detectors, you can no longer have more than two unrelated tenants.

The expired HMO license leaves a trace

Luckily, it is not all bad news. When you apply for an HMO licence, you will need to tick the ‘New Application’ box – but it does not mean that the council will process your application the same way as applications for properties which have never been registered before. The Edinburgh Council operates a register of HMO licensed properties, so they know that a property with a recently expired HMO license most likely conforms with all building and safety standards. A property with an expired license will be tagged as ‘Past HMO’ in their system. It means that during the initial inspection there may be just one licensing inspector, instead of two or three assessors (from both Licensing and Building Standards and Fire Safety teams).

Faster and cheaper HMO application

If your safety certificates are up to date; all doors self-close from all positions; smoke detectors are in all bedrooms and bigger cupboards; all locks are either Yale or thumb turn locks, you will most likely pass the initial inspection with flying colours. As you will not need to carry out the usual alterations (installing smoke/heat alarms; emergency lights; door closers), you will spend significantly less on bringing the property up to HMO standards.
If all certification is in place and the property complies with HMO standards, then it should quickly pass the initial inspection and no follow up inspection would be necessary. Instead, there will just be a list of tasks to complete within 7 days. The landlord will need to confirm the the tasks have been done in writing.