Issue - decisions
Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) Licensing Scheme
19/10/2015 - Review of Additional Licensing Scheme for Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) in Oxford.
The Executive Director, Regeneration and Housing submitted a report (previously circulated, now appended) which detailed the results from the consultation carried out for the HMO Licensing Scheme and sought approval to designate the whole of the City as subject to additional licensing under section 56(1) (a) of the Housing Act 2004 in relation to the size and type of HMO specified in the recommendations of this report for 5 years commencing the 25 January 2016.
Cllr Turner, Executive Board Member for Finance, Corporate Asset Management and Public Health presented the report, highlighting the Council’s duty to be pro-active in addressing the problems of poor quality accommodation in the private rented sector because the acute housing shortage in the city meant that tenants were often reluctant to complain about conditions. He commended officers for a clear report and for the thoroughness of the consultation process. In conclusion he informed the Board that he had agreed the scrutiny recommendations (appended).
The Chair of the Scrutiny Housing Panel presented the Panel’s report and recommendations. She commended officers on the high level of community engagement in the consultation and was pleased to note that both of the Panel recommendations had been agreed by CEB, particularly the need to investigate the potential to increase the number of free bulky items collections for tenants living in HMOs. She said that the impact of HMOs on the local environment should not be underestimated especially in areas where there was a high density of HMOs and she urged the Council to consider all options to control and improve the problems of parking, waste collection and landscaping.
In response to questions the HMO Enforcement Team Manager explained that the Council had limited powers to deal with parking problems but that officers worked with the County Council to do what they could to minimise the situation in local areas. Officers were also developing a new on-line system which would simplify the application process.
The legal advisor said that there was no requirement for the proposals at Recommendations 5 and 6 to be referred to Council for approval. He confirmed that the proposals were within the powers of executive delegation of the City Executive Board.
The City Executive Board resolved to:
1. Note the report of the Consultation of Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation 2015 and its findings attached at Appendix 1;
2. Agree that having considered the report of the consultation, which shows that a significant proportion of HMOs in the City are being managed ineffectively, an additional licensing scheme is required for a further 5 years;
3. Agree to designate the whole of the City as subject to additional licensing under section 56(1)(a) of the Housing Act 2004 for all three storey Houses in Multiple Occupation that contain three or four occupiers and all two storey Houses in Multiple Occupation that contain five or more occupiers with the designation coming into force on 25 January 2016 for a period of 5 years;
4. Agree to designate the whole of the City as subject to additional licensing under section 56(1)(a) of the Housing Act 2004 in relation to all two storey or single storey Houses in Multiple Occupation that contain three or four occupiers and all self-contained flats that are Houses in Multiple Occupation, irrespective of the number of storeys, but, so far as concerns section 257, Houses in Multiple Occupation, limit the designation to those that are mainly or wholly tenanted, Including those with resident landlords. This second designation will come into force on the 31 January 2017 and will last for 4 years;
5. Agree to adopt the proposed fees and charges structure attached at Appendix 2; and
6. Agree to adopt the eligibility criteria for the new scheme as attached at Appendix 3.
The Executive Director for Community Services submitted a report (previously circulated, now appended) which detailed findings from a review carried out for the HMO Licensing Scheme and sought approval to conduct a statutory consultation to renew the scheme in January 2016.
Cllr Seamons, Executive Board Member for Housing presented the report. He said that the review had identified a number of successes but that there remained a large volume of work to do to regulate the service and improve standards.
The Service Manager Environmental Health and HMO Enforcement Team Manager outlined the arrangements for the consultation which would include an on-line questionnaire, roadshows, focus groups with students and ethnic tenants, and meetings with ward councillors and local resident groups.
Cllr Brown raised concerns about the growing problem of “beds in sheds” and “hot bedding” in parts of the city.
The City Executive Board resolved to:
1. NOTE the Review of Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation 2015;
2. NOTE that the Review indicates that a significant proportion of HMOs in the Council`s area are being managed ineffectively;
3. INSTRUCT Officers of the Council to proceed with a statutory 10 week consultation on the basis that it is necessary to renew the licensing scheme in its entirety for a further 5 years from the 25 January 2016 (Option 3);
4. REQUEST a future report in October 2015 setting out the results of the statutory consultation and the proposed future of the licensing scheme.