Con­sul­ta­tion re­veals con­cerns over HMOs in area

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DIS­RE­PAIR and anti-so­cial be­hav­iour are some of the main con­cerns Rhondda Cynon Taff res­i­dents have with houses in mul­ti­ple occupation (HMOs).

The find­ings come from a con­sul­ta­tion which took place be­tween Au­gust and Septem­ber look­ing into how HMO li­cens­ing is work­ing in RCT which has seen reg­u­la­tion for 16 years through manda­tory li­cens­ing and ad­di­tional li­cens­ing schemes.

In to­tal 146 peo­ple re­sponded to the con­sul­ta­tion, with the ma­jor­ity of these be­ing from the Tre­for­est area.

More than half of re­spon­dents were home­own­ers, while 26% were ten­ants and 14% were land­lords.

Just un­der half iden­ti­fied anti-so­cial be­hav­iour as the main cause for con­cern re­lated to HMOs, with a quar­ter say­ing it was dis­re­pair.

Dur­ing the con­sul­ta­tion, com­ments made by land­lords sug­gested HMO li­cens­ing was an un­nec­es­sary tax on their prop­er­ties and showed they have con­cerns that the scheme only cap­tures “good land­lords” while oth­ers go un­reg­u­lated.

They also say li­cens­ing is the wrong ap­proach and un­bal­ances the hous­ing mar­ket, thus driv­ing prop­erty prices up.

Com­ments from stu­dents and ten­ants fo­cused on their de­sire to see in­creased con­trols, es­pe­cially in re­la­tion to the ap­pear­ance of HMOs and the de­sire for high­erqual­ity HMOs with a fo­cus on poor land­lords.

Home­own­ers men­tioned refuse prob­lems, the need to do more to make land­lords and ten­ants look af­ter prop­er­ties, the prob­lem of ab­sent land­lords, pres­sure on park­ing in Tre­for­est, un­savoury ten­ants and an­ti­so­cial be­hav­iour, the fact that there are too many HMOs and not enough af­ford­able hous­ing, and the need to pro­tect ten­ants from un­scrupu­lous land­lords.

There are cur­rently 633 li­censed HMOs in RCT, although the po­ten­tial num­ber is higher at around 688 due to va­can­cies and un­der-occupation.

Al­most all (97%) of prop­er­ties sub­ject to an ap­pli­ca­tion for a HMO li­cence were found to be non-com­pli­ant with the le­gal re­quire­ments and in­spec­tions un­der­taken af­ter a li­cence was granted show that only 40% of these main­tained those le­gal stan­dards, re­sult­ing in en­force­ment ac­tion over is­sues such as fire pre­cau­tions, poor ex­ter­nal ap­pear­ance, damp and dis­re­pair.

A to­tal of 796 sig­nif­i­cant haz­ards have been re­moved from 346 li­censed HMOs as a di­rect re­sult of the li­cens­ing regime.

A re­port set to come be­fore Rhondda Cynon Taf Coun­cil’s health and well­be­ing scru­tiny com­mit­tee says: “HMOs are a nec­es­sary hous­ing op­tion and form an im­por­tant part of the hous­ing mar­ket of RCT.

“The eval­u­a­tion of the 2014 Ad­di­tional Li­cens­ing Scheme shows the pos­i­tive im­pact that the li­cens­ing regime has had on HMO stan­dards.

“How­ever, there is clear ev­i­dence of the need for on­go­ing reg­u­la­tion of the sec­tor to pro­tect ten­ants from poor hous­ing stan­dards and to pro­tect com­mu­ni­ties from the ad­verse im­pact of poorly man­aged HMOs.”

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