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Public to be consulted on HMO provision

27/08/15

Public to be consulted on HMO provision

Councillors have agreed to hold a public consultation on an over-provision scheme to control the number of Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs) in Aberdeen.

Members of the Communities, Housing and Infrastructure (CH&I) Committee unanimously backed the move at a meeting today (Thursday), with a further report on the results of the engagement exercise due in January next year.

City Council officers were previously asked to explore the possibility of introducing a scheme similar to one that was launched in Dundee.

The Dundee model provides a cut-off point for a defined local area at 12.5%, with a "traffic light" system to indicate which areas are nearing capacity.

The threshold for Aberdeen is tentatively proposed to be 15%, subject to the results of the consultation.

In 2012, new powers were introduced under the Private Rented Housing (Scotland) Act 2011 to allow licensing authorities such as Aberdeen to refuse to grant an HMO licence when there is considered to be an over-provision in the area.

Old Aberdeen Community Council has recently raised concerns at the level of HMO provision in its local area.

Aberdeen City Council's CH&I Convener, Councillor Neil Cooney, said: "We need a consistent and workable policy and this report follows a committee instruction to look at the Dundee model. Nothing has been set in stone with regard to the 15% threshold, it is a tentative figure, and we will await the results of the consultation."

New-build, purpose built HMO accommodation such as blocks of student flats will be exempt from the policy.

The City Council's legal team has also advised that public consultation is only part of the process required.

The officers stressed that, even if there was a 100% response in favour of an overprovision policy, there still would have to be a proper assessment of need within the city. The assessment would also have to look at the extent to which HMO accommodation is required to meet needs in a specific locality.

If an overprovision policy were to be introduced, clear information would have to be provided to any HMO licence applicant on the position in the local area concerned.

That would allow people to decide if they wish to pursue the application or indeed buy a property with a view to leasing as an HMO.