Agenda and minutes
Venue: West Offices, York
Contact: Robert Flintoft Scrutiny Officer
Declarations of Interest
At this point in the meeting, members are asked to declare any personal interests not included on the Register of Interests, any prejudicial interests or any disclosable pecuniary interests which they may have in respect of business on this agenda.
Members were asked to declare, at this point in the meeting,
any personal interests not included on the Register of Interests
or any prejudicial or discloseable pecuniary interest that they
might have in respect of the business on the agenda. None were declared.
To approve and sign the minutes of the Housing and Community Safety Scrutiny Committee meeting held on 11 December 2021.
Resolved: That the minutes of the meeting held on 11 December 2020 be approved and signed as a correct record.
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It was reported that there had been one registration to speak under the Council’s Public Participation Scheme.
Madeline Bennett spoke in relation to the growing number of HMO’s in York, she raised concerns that not enough was done in planning enforcement to prevent developers converting properties to HMO’s and then getting permission retrospectively. She asked that the Council restrict permitted development rights and to enforce regulations.
This report asks the Committee to consider the evidence base and make a recommendation regarding the five options to improve standards within the Council’s HMO’s, and provide any comments on the proposed HMO licensing process, prior to the Executive making a decision.
The Committee were joined by Officers, Cllr Craghill the Executive Member for Housing and Safer Neighbourhoods, Fiona Derbyshire, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice York, Andrew Simpson, Chair of the York Residential Landlords Association, Rachel Barber, Head of Student Services at the University of York Students Union, and Patrick O’Donnell, President of the University of York Students Union.
Officers noted that Since 1st October, 2018, all HMOs with 5 or more occupants who form more than one household are required to be licensed. The mandatory licensing of larger HMOs in York had been effective in regulating and improving the standard of accommodation offered to let within this sector by encouraging a positive interaction with landlords and allowed for any problems presented by each house to be managed on an individual basis through a bespoke set of licence conditions. It was also noted that Licensing does not control the number and distribution of HMOs. This is achieved through Planning and specifically the Article 4 Planning Directive put in place in April 2012.
Cllr Craghill outlined that she was seeking the Committee’s view on the five options and consultation outlined in the report. She noted that her aim for the proposal was to improve the rights of tenants in smaller HMO’s that would become part of the mandatory licensing scheme and create a level playing field around the standard of housing for the majority of good landlords. The Committee were also provided with a presentation that outlined the five options in the report and the proposed consultation.
Rachel Barber, Head of Student Services at the University of York Students Union noted the work the Student Union had undertaken with Citizens Advice to look at the quality and cost of Housing for students. She noted that responses included 47% saying repairs were undertaken quickly, 31% had pest or insect infestations. She noted concerns of threatening behaviour from landlords, overcrowding in properties, and students spending a high proportion of their income on housing than the average in the city. She noted that she would support minimum legal standards to be in place for HMO’s and greater support for legal advice for tenants.
Patrick O’Donnell, President of the University of York Students Union highlighted that many students lived in a HMO’s which were not safe places to live, missing things such as Carbon Monoxide alarms or fire doors. He expressed that he would also support proposals to improve housing standards.
Fiona Derbyshire, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice York outlined that people in the city pay very high prices for poor quality housing. She noted that York performs poorly against other cities and had unlicensed landlords holding tenants to ransom, meanwhile things like essential repairs in properties could take over a year to be completed. She noted the success of licensing schemes elsewhere in the UK and the benefits they provided tenants and the wider community. She noted concerns about how the Council might fund enforcement for roughly 2000 more HMO’s, but would support licencing being introduced ... view the full minutes text for item 14.