Local authorities asked to use discretion on charging or waiving building warrant fees

Housing minister Kevin Stewart has urged local authorities to consider waiving fees accrued as a result of building warrant extensions during the coronavirus pandemic.

Housing minister Kevin Stewart

In a letter published today, Mr Stewart said “it is important that the fee does not prevent contractors getting back to work in a safe and responsible manner”.

At the beginning of April, the Scottish Government provided guidance on the duration of building warrants (extending the validity and determination of application – refusal and deemed refusals) as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Providing an addendum to this guidance, Mr Stewart wrote: “I refer to my letter of 7 April 2020 providing guidance on the extension to building warrant duration and deemed refusal over the period affected by COVID-19. The intent of the guidance was to ensure that where work was paused as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic that applicants would not be disadvantaged through the expiry of their building warrant.

“I appreciate that granting an extension to a building warrant requires further work and as a result a fee is normally charged. However, at this time it is important that the fee does not prevent contractors getting back to work in a safe and responsible manner in order to complete works for applicants. As such you should use your discretion with regards to charging or waiving fees. You should consider using this discretion at this time, particularly for small works that were halted by the pandemic.

“This guidance specifically addresses small works including those to existing homes and businesses premises, and where delays to the completion of works have been caused by the pause in construction due to the pandemic.”

The latest guidance will remain in force until October 31. This timescale is said to allow for any work that was paused due to the pandemic to have restarted and any necessary extension to warrant to have been applied for.