Con­cerns over sta­tus of ‘cou­ples’ rent­ing flats

Evening Times - - NEWS - BY DREW SANDELANDS

CON­CERNS have been raised over the steps taken to es­tab­lish whether re­la­tion­ships are le­git­i­mate when Glas­gow homes are rented out.

The law re­quires any land­lord let­ting a prop­erty to three or more peo­ple, who are not re­lated, to ob­tain a house in mul­ti­ple oc­cu­pa­tion (HMO) li­cence.

But, un­der the law, a land­lord does not re­quire a li­cence if ten­ants are a cou­ple, which is de­fined as “mar­ried or are civil part­ners, or live to­gether as hus­band and wife or, where they are of the same sex, in an equiv­a­lent re­la­tion­ship”.

Some prop­er­ties are cheaper rent when more ten­ants move in.

Coun­cil­lors on the city’s li­cens­ing com­mit­tee ques­tioned whether cou­ples liv­ing to­gether would choose to sleep in sep­a­rate rooms.

The is­sue was raised af­ter it was re­vealed land­lord Amar­jit Singh was rent­ing a four bed­room prop­erty to two cou­ples, who used all four rooms.

He was granted new HMO li­cences for two four-bed prop­er­ties on Cran­worth Street, which were both be­ing oc­cu­pied by two cou­ples when the coun­cil car­ried out an in­spec­tion.

His ap­pli­ca­tion came just one week af­ter Suak­jasvin­der Singh was warned for op­er­at­ing a prop­erty as a HMO with­out a li­cence, de­spite his rep­re­sen­ta­tive say­ing the ten­ants had claimed they were a cou­ple.

Amar­jit Singh’s let­ting agent said “thor­ough” checks were car­ried out to check the ten­ants were in a re­la­tion­ship, with back­ground in­for­ma­tion re­quested.

But she added: “I’m not sure how to prove they’re liv­ing in a re­la­tion­ship.”

Asked to if a cou­ple “equal to marriage” would be sleep­ing sep­a­rately, she said: “To what ex­tent can you say you’re not sleep­ing in the same bed, you’re not a cou­ple?”

Coun­cil­lor Rhi­an­non Spear said: “I’m re­ally con­cerned about any kind of let­ting agent us­ing re­la­tion­ships in this way.”

She said she would ex­pect any agent to take “rea­son­able steps” to as­cer­tain a re­la­tion­ship is up to the stan­dard re­quired by law.

In one of the prop­er­ties, a lounge had been con­verted into a bed­room to pro­vide four rooms.

Coun­cil­lor El­speth Kerr asked if there was a dif­fer­ence in price. The rep­re­sen­ta­tive for Amar­jit Singh sug­gested it was around £1700 for four peo­ple, com­pared to £1500 for three.

A coun­cil of­fi­cer said it was the land­lord’s re­spon­si­bil­ity to check a re­la­tion­ship was le­git­i­mate but the coun­cil could ex­plore the is­sue if they had any doubts.

“If there’s ev­i­dence of a sec­ond per­son in any room that would be a breach,” she said.

Laws gov­ern­ing HMOs were in­tro­duced in 2000 af­ter two young men died in a flat fire on Mel­rose Street in the Wood­lands area of the city.

Af­ter re­ceiv­ing a HMO li­cence ap­pli­ca­tion, the coun­cil’s HMO unit and Scot­tish Fire and Res­cue Ser­vice will jointly in­spect a prop­erty.

When Suak­jasvin­der Singh’s ap­pli­ca­tion for his West Princes Street flat went be­fore the com­mit­tee last week, his rep­re­sen­ta­tive said there had been three girls in the prop­erty, with two say­ing they were in a re­la­tion­ship.

“We can’t say to peo­ple, ‘sorry you’re ly­ing to us, you’re not a cou­ple’,” she added.

She said there’s a lot of same-sex cou­ples and par­ents, who of­ten pay the rent, don’t know they’re gay.

Coun­cil­lor Spear said she was “ex­tremely con­cerned” by the in­ci­dent.

GLAS­GOW will vote to send seven MPs to West­min­ster on Thurs­day. There is a lot of noise about Brexit and a sec­ond in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum and can­di­dates and party lead­ers are shout­ing back and forth their elec­tion slo­gans and re­peat­ing their key mes­sages un­til they stick in the heads of the vot­ers.

No doubt that will con­tinue af­ter De­cem­ber 12 when MPs re­turn to Par­lia­ment but mean­time there are many press­ing is­sues af­fect­ing the daily lives of peo­ple in Glas­gow.

Whether we are in or out of the Euro­pean Union or whether we have a sec­ond ref­er­en­dum on in­de­pen­dence these is­sues per­sist.

So, at the Glas­gow Times we are ask­ing the can­di­dates to ad­dress the fol­low­ing is­sues that re­peat­edly come up in our stories and we be­lieve are of se­ri­ous con­cern to our read­ers and the peo­ple of Glas­gow.

Since the roll out last year, 18,000 emer­gency pay­ments have had to be made to­talling more than £6m. Food banks are stat­ing the ben­e­fit is a ma­jor cause of ris­ing de­mand and Ci­ti­zens Ad­vice has dealt with thou­sands of con­cerns

End the five week wait for a first pay­ment that is push­ing thou­sands into poverty and re­form or scrap the sys­tem to make it fair for all.

Glas­gow has an un­em­ploy­ment rate of 5.5%, which is higher than both the UK and Scot­tish av­er­age. The city has been blighted by long term and in­ter­gen­er­a­tional un­em­ploy­ment and has al­most 50,00 peo­ple on ESA or In­ca­pac­ity ben­e­fits.

In­vest in skills pro­grammes to en­sure Glas­gow has the right work­force to meet the chang­ing needs of the mod­ern econ­omy, and to re­duce the num­ber of work­ing age eco­nom­i­cally in­ac­tive peo­ple.

Glas­gow has many firms ac­cred­ited as Liv­ing Wage em­ploy­ers but still an es­ti­mated 64,000 work­ers in Glas­gow are paid be­low the liv­ing wage. Younger work­ers are also hit by the age bands for the Na­tional Min­i­mum wage.

Com­mit to the real Liv­ing Wage of £9.30 per hour and end the over 25 rule for the up­per level of the Na­tional Min­i­mum Wage.

Glas­gow has long­stand­ing health is­sues and many peo­ple are de­pen­dent on health­care and de­pend on it be­ing free and avail­able.

In­vest in staff and fa­cil­i­ties and pro­tect the NHS as free at the point of use, in line with its found­ing prin­ci­ples.

Glas­gow has around 80,000 peo­ple of work­ing age on out of work ben­e­fits.

Many fam­i­lies are de­pen­dent ei­ther short term or long term on the wel­fare state.

Glas­gow is es­ti­mated to lose £120m by 2021 in wel­fare cuts tak­ing money from fam­i­lies and out of the econ­omy.

Com­mit to en­sur­ing the end to the ben­e­fit freeze, which is due in April 2020, ac­tu­ally hap­pens.

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