Council reassures University of St Andrews students over possible rent rises

St Salvator's Quad at St Andrews University.St Salvator's Quad at St Andrews University.
St Salvator's Quad at St Andrews University.
There is no need to pass on an 800 per cent increase in HMO fees to students through a rise in rents, Fife Council has said.

The University of St Andrews announced last week that it was taking legal opinion after Fife Council increased the fees for HMO licences every three years around 800 per cent, up from just £52,000 to £512,000.

Concerns were voiced that this could lead to students being priced out of university accommodation and moving into private housing, if rents were increased as a result.

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Fife Council said it had been in contact with students this week to explain the rise, saying it had not increased the fees since 2006.

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

John Mills, head of Fife Council’s housing service, said : “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. 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.”

The university said it would have to have to find £500,000 to cover this cost and admitted it is facing an underlying deficit this year.

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The institute also said it was “surprised” that the council did not engage in consultation before making the changes and that it was yet to receive an explanation for the sudden rise.

A spokesperson added: “This unprecedented move has raised concerns that it will undermine the university’s sustained efforts to ease pressure on the local housing stock. We cannot understand why the council appears determined to damage one of Fife’s biggest employers and inhibit out ability to provide affordable housing for our students to the benefit of the local community.”