Edinburgh landlord stripped of HMO licence after causing 'flooding disaster' - but the flat is still an Airbnb

A landlord has been stripped of his HMO licence for causing a flooding “disaster” for a neighbour – but has been told he can continue to operate the property as an Airbnb.

Thursday, 6th February 2020, 6:00 am
Graham Muir's ceiling caved in after flooding from the above property

Tahir Ali’s renewal HMO application for his flat on Clerk Street was refused by Edinburgh City Council’s licensing sub-committee after councillors heard complaints over flooding and anti-social behaviour – while building work was carried out without the proper permissions.

The council’s licensing manager, Catherine Scanlin, told councillors that the objection, by Graham Muir, was down to a “breakdown in the relationship with the owner of the property” and that there “seems to be a history of flooding into another property”.

Mr Muir, who runs a laundry cafe below the flat, claimed that up to 11 people stayed in the flat at any one time, despite a capacity of five. Building standards officers also confirmed that en-suite showers had been installed in the flat “without permission” after a building warrant application was refused.

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Mr Muir believes the flood damage to his laundry cafe will cost him thousands

Mr Muir, 65, said: “The shop has been flooded on a number of occasions. The ceiling caved in and it’s now propped up with scaffolding. It’s a complete disaster.

“There are people coming and going all the time, there are junkies that get in. He refuses to help – he’s just not bothered. He’s not a responsible person – it’s a ghost hostel.”

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Mr Ali said that Mr Muir “has had it in for me since day one” and insists on “sticking his nose in to everybody else’s business except his own”. But he admitted that he shouldn’t have carried out the work on his property without securing permission.

He said: “Applications have been submitted. In hindsight I should have waited but because the workmen were in place, I carried on. Nothing is illegal, everything is above board.

“I offered to do his ceiling up and he said he didn’t want my ‘cowboys’ going in there.”

He added: “It’s not a hostel, it’s a HMO – it always has been.

“The current situation is that it’s let as an Airbnb holiday let. There have never been 11 people, not to my knowledge – and I manage the premises.”

The property currently has one permanent resident, a female student – while the remainder is let out as Airbnb-style short term lets. Licensing officials told Mr Ali that he does not need any planning permission to operate as an Airbnb.

Cllr Denis Dixon, standing in as licensing convener, called for the application to be approved, despite the objection from Mr Muir.

He said: “It’s a difficult one because you are using it for multiple uses.

“My feeling is that I would like to renew it for one year.”

But no other councillors supported Cllr Dixon and instead the licence application was refused.

Cllr Cameron Rose said: “There are two issues that give me considerable concern here. We have a number of incidents of flooding that have not been adequately dealt with. Planning permission has been refused and the work has gone on.

“I propose that we do not renew the HMO because of the premises. We have heard from the objector that there’s unresolved damaged from flooding last year and therefore, the premises are not suitable for a renewal.”