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Howard and Byrne Solicitors, York - Criminal Defence Specialists

Houses in multiple occupation in York

For sale board - housing

12:01am 24th October 2011

Cabinet members will discuss how to respond to the challenges facing the shared housing sector in York, at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday 1st November 2011.

Shared houses of multiple occupancy (HMO) represent a significant and growing proportion of households in York because of the expansion of universities and prevailing economic conditions.

Whilst shared accommodation is regarded as a valuable asset to the city, there has been national and local debate about the wider impact that concentrated student households and other households using shared accommodation have on the wider housing market, and on loss of local amenities such as shops and  schools. 

During the Cabinet meeting members will discuss proposals which outline the different measures available to improve the management and condition of HMOs and the introduction of a city wide landlord accreditation scheme.

Accreditation schemes have been introduced in many forms over the country. They can be run at a local level by councils, Higher Educational Institutions and their agents and Landlord Associations. The three main elements to a scheme is that they have a satisfactory Code of Practice , sufficient resources to effectively operate a scheme and a satisfactory mechanism to undertake compliance checking, complaint investigation and disciplinary action.

Members will also be asked to confirm the Article 4 Direction, made by the previous council on the 15 April 2011, and to remove permitted development rights for future proposed changes of use from dwelling houses to HMOs, within the main urban area of the city.

The direction that could came in to force in April 2012 would mean that planning permission is required from City of York Council when someone wants to change an ordinary house to a house of multiple occupation, where there would be six residents or more.

The use of Article 4 Direction powers to require planning approval for new HMOs is widespread nationally. Cities including Leeds, Portsmouth and Manchester have confirmed Directions, and other towns and cities including Oxford have adopted coordinated housing and planning initiatives, including Article 4 powers to manage shared housing in their areas.

If agreed at Cabinet, the new policy will be developed to help manage (rather than restrict) the supply and distribution of new shared housing. Cabinet will decide which of the following options to take forward:

1.        Agree no change to current approach towards housing standards in the private rented sector and no confirmation of the Article 4 Direction

2.        Explore approaches to improving the standard of HMOs through an accreditation scheme but not to confirm the Article 4 Direction

3.        Explore approaches to improving the standard of HMOs and confirm the Article 4 Direction, covering the urban area of the city to take effect on 20 April 2012

4.        Explore approaches to improving the standard of HMOs and amend the Direction in light of the representations received. (Amendment could involve alteration of the area affected by the Direction and/or a change of the date it takes effect)

5.        Agree no change to current approach towards housing standards in the private rented sector and amend the Direction in light of the representations received. (Amendment could involve alteration of the area affected by the Direction and/or a change of the date it takes effect)

The findings and options to address HMOs were presented to members at the Local Development Framework Working group in September 2010 and January 2011.

If agreed, supports officers will continue to work with the stakeholders and landlord representatives to develop a strategic approach and a new planning policy for HMOs.

Cabinet members Dave Merrett (City Strategy) and Tracey Simpson-Laing (Housing and Adult Services), said:

“This paper seeks to strike a sensible balance on the issue of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs. It offers options that could help us ensure we get well managed HMOs in York, and maintain balanced communities, including protecting more family accommodation for that purpose.”

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