The HMO Unit Manager, reported that applications had been received to for a new licence to operate a House of Multiple Occupation (HMO), in respect of four units, flats 1-4, at 2A India Street. He stated that, the properties had previously held HMO licences, granted by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, but that the licences had expired in December, 2020.
He informed the Committee that, HMO licence applications had been received from the owner of the four accommodations on 8th September, 2021, and that, a temporary exemption notices had been granted on 22nd November, 2021 and had been further extended to 8th July, 2022.
He pointed out that the four properties each had a Certificate of Lawful Existing Use or Development and that officers were not aware of any issues in relation to the fitness of the Applicant or his Managing Agent.
He outlined the assessment which had taken place on 11th April and 4th May, 2022, in order to determine the provision and availability of HMO accommodation in the HMO Policy Area and he stated that, Legal Services had advised that there was a clear requirement in Section 8 of the Houses in Multiple Occupation (Northern Ireland) Act 2016, for the Council to be satisfied that the granting of a licence would not result in overprovision.
He reported that, there had been no objections received in relation to the applications and that technical officers from the NIHMO Service had inspected the properties and had noted that, there were several outstanding fire safety issues regarding all four properties, additionally, Flat 1, had been reported as having an undersized bedroom.
The HMO Unit Manger pointed out that a notice of proposed decision had been issued to the Applicant, for each of the four applications, on 5th May, 2022. He stated that, with regard to Flats 2, 3 and 4, the notices of proposed decision advised the Applicant that, the Council intended to refuse the applications, as it could not be satisfied that the granting of the licences would not result in overprovision in the locality.
He added that, with regard to Flat 1, the notice of proposed decision outlined that the Council intended to refuse the application on the grounds of overprovision, and that it could not be satisfied that the living accommodation was suitable for occupation as an HMO, by the number of persons to be specified in the licence.
The Chairperson welcomed the Applicant, Mr. C Stewart and his Managing Agent, Ms. D. Robertson, to the meeting. Mr. Stewart stated that all issues with regard to the four properties had been addressed, and that the properties had been further inspected by the NIHMO technical officers. Ms. Robertson added that, with regard to the suitability of the accommodation at Flat 1, a previously single bedroom had been converted to a double room, and therefore, the property was suitable for occupation as an HMO, by the number of persons to be specified in the licence application.
In response to a question from a Member with regard to the conversion of the single bedroom to a double bedroom at Flat 1, the HMO Unit Manager confirmed that, subsequent to the recent inspections carried out by the NIHMO technical officers, the proposed decision to refuse the licences, would solely be on the grounds of overprovision, with regard to all four applications.
He added that, the HMO Policy area threshold was 30 percent and that it was currently, 46 percent, and that, the Council could only grant new licences where it was satisfied that, in doing so, it would not result in overprovision in the HMO Policy Area.