Plans to consult on broadening licensing for houses of multiple occupation

Mid Devon Star: Plans to consult on broadening licensing for houses of multiple occupation Plans to consult on broadening licensing for houses of multiple occupation

PEOPLE could be asked to have their say on proposals to extend the principles of licensing for houses of multiple occupation (HMOs) not already covered by the current scheme.

Exeter City Council wants to broaden its licensing to cover rented properties in buildings which have been poorly converted into self-contained flats or flats in multiple occupation above shops and businesses.

A proposal to consult with landlords, tenants, partnership agencies and the public in general about the planned changes will go before the City Council's Executive on Tuesday 24 June.

The move would allow the City Council to maintain stricter controls on those properties currently not covered by the licensing regime.

Cllr Rob Hannaford, Lead Councillor for Housing and Customer Access, said: "A significant proportion of these HMOs are posing an increased risk to the often unsuspecting tenants who live there, in terms of fire safety. They are frequently associated with poor management and anti-social behaviour.

"Introducing additional licensing would assist us in tackling these problems and further the Council's objectives of improving standards in the private reneted sector."

At present, there are estimated to be around 2,500 HMOs in Exeter, 700 of which are covered by the Mandatory Licensing Scheme introduced nationally in 2006.

The new regime would expect to cover around 400 HMOs.

The HMOs being targetted by the new licensing proposals generate a high number of complaints - over 30% of the total number received - from local residents, often around fly-tipping and poorly presented refuse. They are also often at the centre of complaints around noise luisance and low-level anti-social behaviour.

Under the Housing Act, the City Council would be able to extend its licensing powers to cover these additional HMOs, if it can prove that a significant proportion are being poorly managed.

"This is not about being over draconian or bureaucratic - this is about ensuring the safety of the people of Exeter and making sure that they have a suitable place to live," said Cllr Hannaford.

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