To explain the processes and issues around HIMOs, to assist the PDP in forming a clear terms of reference for a Task Group (report of the Executive Director Place enclosed).
Consideration was given to the report of the Executive Director Place which explained the processes and issues around Houses in Multiple Occupation (HIMOs), which would assist in forming a clear terms of reference for a task group, should the Panel wish to set one up.
Appendix A to the report provided a summary of the current requirements for licensed HMOs (which the Authority had a statutory duty to licence), how this would change when the Government enacted legislation (Housing and Planning Act 2016) in April 2018, and issues around non-licenced HIMOs. Information was also provided on current staffing arrangements, processes, inspections, licensing, enforcement and other considerations.
The following issues were raised:
· Inspections/surveillance – Members commented that by advising owners of HMOs when inspections would take place, those wishing not to operate within the guidelines could do so by providing a false impression at the visit. Officers advised that legally, the Authority was required to give notice of an inspection. However, where there was any intelligence around the operation of HMOs, officers could act on this. Officers were regularly ‘out and about’ in the process of doing their work, and where any issues were identified, action would be taken accordingly.
· Members were advised that there was a public register of licensed HMOs, and it was requested that this be added to the Council’s website.
· Members asked whether the Authority was ready for the proposed changes to legislation in 2018. Officers responded that two additional members of staff had been employed in order to deal with the extra work that would be involved.
· In view of the changes in regulations, and the additional work involved for officers, members felt that any involvement the Panel had should wait until the new regulations were in operation.
· Members highlighted that they were not overly familiar with the process surrounding HMOs and licensing as there was crossover with other functions, particularly planning. They confirmed that they would appreciate an update report providing more information on the legislative process surrounding HMOs.
· Members highlighted that their primary areas of concern relating to HMOs centred on parking and refuse issues; unscrupulous landlords; licensed and unlicensed HMOs; and the interface between licensing and planning permission.
It was agreed that officers report back to the Panel after new legislation had come into force next year, and that the report provided information on areas of concern raised by members, provided members with the knowledge required to understand the issues, and the current situation following implementation of the new legislation. The Chairman of the Panel would liaise with officers regarding a convenient date for the report to be presented to the Panel.
a) That officers report back to the Panel after new legislation had come into force in 2018, the Chairman of the Panel to liaise with officers regarding a suitable date for this to take place;
b) That the report provide information on areas of concern raised by members, provide members with the knowledge required to understand the issues, and that the position following implementation of new legislation be laid out; and
c) That the public register of licensed HMOs be added to the Council’s website.