Landlords are facing stricter new conditions on how they operate their property as part of an effort to curb the impact that houses of multiple occupancy (HMO) can have on communities.
The conditions, which cover cleansing issues, repairs to common property and dealing with neighbour complaints, will come into effect following a review of HMO licensing by the council's Licensing and Regulatory Committee. The review identified many concerns linked to the presence of HMOs in neighbourhoods across the city, particularly where there are high concentrations of this type of rental property.
High levels of refuse from HMOs being left in back courts and lanes is a common complaint with a surge in bulk waste being dumped at the end of the academic year also being raised as a recurring problem. Public consultation feedback also focused on difficulties with securing support from HMO landlords for repairs and maintenance to common parts of flatted property. How to deal with noise and other anti-social behaviour was also flagged as a source of on-going disputes.
While it was found there is no legal basis for a cap on the number of HMO licences issued within Glasgow, the review reiterated that the purpose of HMO licensing is to protect public safety. The review conclude that better management of HMOs was a practical way forward.
Councillor Alex Wilson, Chair of the Licensing and Regulatory Committee, said that striking a balance between the needs of neighbourhoods, residents, HMO tenants and landlords was essential.
Councillor Wilson said: "It is clear there is a strong depth of feeling about how HMOs operate in the city. There is a range of issues that are regularly brought before members of the committee and we know that the way HMOs are sometimes managed cause real problems to other residents.
"But the public safety purpose of the HMO system should not be put to one side. HMOs provide homes of a reliable standard for people who cannot otherwise afford to live independently and that's a system we support.
"The advice we have received means there is not a legally defensible way to limit how many HMOs there in Glasgow as there is a continuing need for kind of accommodation. So focusing on what really bothers people about the way property is managed is the way to deal with this.
"Indiscriminate dumping of rubbish, refusing to pull your weight with the cost of repairs, failing to get a grip with noisy or anti-social tenants - these are the issues that upset other residents. By creating conditions of licence that focus on the issues of concern we are setting out very clearly the standards we expect of our HMO landlords. The conditions will help to ensure we can take a more robust approach with licence holders who do not meet expected standards."
The new conditions for HMOs will cover:- general refuse ; maintenance, insurance and repairs of common areas; bulk refuse; neighbouring residents and statutory notices. All of these conditions will be incorporated into a new code of conduct, which will apply to all HMO licence holders.
As part of the new conditions, a pilot project will be operated through the cleansing service provided by the council's Neighbourhoods and Sustainability department. The pilot will involve landlords notifying the council in advance of flats being cleared of items at the beginning or end or the academic year to ensure bulk waste is reported for collection.
The review also found that it would not be appropriate to use planning policy objectives to limit HMO residences to over-ride a licensing system intended to protect public safety.