Lib Dems fight to raise HMO licencing standards

30 Oct 2021
Lib Dem logo bird projected on blockwork

At Thursday's Council meeting, Councillor Neil Ross got backing to improve HMO (Houses in Multiple Occupation) licence standards across Edinburgh.

Repeat issues in the community include a lack of a contact person, flytipping, and a lack of transparency on application notices to nearby residents.

The Edinburgh Liberal Democrats believe that until every homeless person has access to safe and high-quality housing, HMOs in our communities must be run to the highest standard.

The below motion from Morningside Councillor Neil Ross was passed on 28th October 2021:

Council -

Notes there are a number of elements of HMO licensing where standards applying to landlords could be raised and best practice amongst letting agents could be encouraged, for example,

1. The issue of application notices to residents -

The regularity of complaints by neighbouring residents that the site notice relating to an HMO application is often not easily seen during the required period of 21 days suggests that residents would be better informed of HMO licence applications if they were given a copy of the site notice, either paper or electronic.

2. The issue of emergency contact details to residents -

Changes in the residents neighbouring HMO licenced properties over the three year period of a licence mean that the current requirement for landlords and agents to provide contact details, including 24/7 emergency contact details, to every occupier in the same building as the licence applicant’s premises and any adjoining premises could be improved by making this an annual requirement.

3. Recognises that raising standards among landlords and letting agents should have, as its primary purpose, the improvement of conditions for tenants; as well as better information for neighbours on matters such as notification of licence applications; regular communication of landlord and agent details; and mis-use of domestic waste by landlords, agents and contractors.

4. The problem of fly tipping and/or abuse of residential waste facilities by contractors employed by landlords or agents –

The increasing use by the Council of enforcement action and the issue of fixed penalties to businesses and landlords found to have illegally dumped waste in the street or abused residential waste facilities suggests that a new HMO condition requiring adherence to acceptable waste disposal practices by landlords, and agents and sub-contractors acting on their behalf, might discourage this behaviour by contractors employed by landlords or agents.

Therefore, requests a report to the Regulatory Committee in two cycles on ways to raise standards amongst landlords, to improve the conditions of tenants, to provide clarity for neighbours and to encourage best practice amongst letting agents, in particular, to address the matters highlighted above but also other areas where improvements can be made either via changes to HMO conditions or the HMO application process or by other means, both compulsory and voluntary.  The report should also outline how HMO conditions, standards and guidance might be updated to reflect legislative changes and should reference the current HMO Licensing context, where relevant.

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