Councils want to rethink HMO rules that don’t work

AFS Team·26 April 2013·3 min read
Councils want to rethink HMO rules that don’t work
Councillors in Glasgow want to upgrade house in multiple occupation (HMO) licensing and planning rules.

The council has 2,970 licensed HMOs but fears hundreds more are operating illegally.

Disjointed laws mean planners and housing officers work to different rules when dealing with HMOs, and the council wants a more co-ordinated policy.

A consultation is open for landlords and letting agents to give their opinion about how the new rules should work.

A council spokesman said: "Statutory guidance does not explain how the council’s discretionary power to refuse a licence because a neighbourhood has too many HMOs should be exercised.”

The consultation will run until June 7.

Councillors in Ormskirk, Lancashire, also want tougher HMO rules, saying current planning policies are pushing shared homes into “inappropriate” areas.

The council already has powers to cap HMO numbers to 15% of homes in specific streets.

But this means that, once a street has reached the HMO limit, landlords are looking to other areas, so the problems the policy was meant to control is simply displacing the issues to other neighbourhoods.

Councillor Rob Bailey says the policy was set with good intentions but must now be revised and made more restrictive.

From next year, landlord s in Sunderland, Tyne and Wear, must apply for planning permission to convert a home to an HMO in five of the city’s wards.

The rules are being brought in because Sunderland Council is concerned that there are too many HMOs in the areas of Barnes, Millfield, St Michael’s, St Peter’s and Hendon.

Deputy chief executive of the cabinet Janet Johnson says high concentrations of HMOs can have a detrimental effect on the environment, communities and services.

Councillors in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, also want to review how planners handle HMO applications.

Councillor Jerry Weber claims antisocial behaviour triggered by mainly student occupied HMOs in the south of the town is ‘creeping’ into other areas.

He wants Warwick District Council planners to reduce the number of HMOs in some neighbourhoods.