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Agenda item

HMO Overprovision Policy - Report on Public Consultation - CHI/17/113

·         Amended version of Appendix 2 with pages rotated - please note the content of the document is unchanged


(A)       In terms of Standing Order 13, the Council received a deputation from Mr Lewis Macleod, Communication Officer at Aberdeen University Students’ Association.


Mr Macleod emphasised that implementation of a Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) Overprovision Policy would have a detrimental impact on students being able to afford to live in the city, and that the policy did not offer a solution. He highlighted that 96% of the 391 students who had responded to the consultation were against the policy, and even if student responses were removed, the majority of respondents were still not in favour of the introduction of the policy.


Mr Macleod underlined the positive contribution that students made to the communities they lived in, and that the vast majority of students were good neighbours. He added that the introduction of a policy would force students to live in more expensive accommodation or travel from further afield which would incur additional costs. Mr Macleod highlighted that it was not just students who lived in HMOs; many young professionals and key workers would also be negatively affected, and HMOs were also available for families to rent.


Mr Macleod concluded that the introduction of an HMO Overprovision Policy would have a disproportionately negative impact on students across the city and called upon the Council to vote for the recommendations contained within the report.


Members asked questions of Mr Macleod and thanked him for his contribution.


(B)       The Council next received a deputation from Mr Dewi Morgan, Planning Officer for Old Aberdeen Community Council.


Mr Morgan stated that local residents were concerned about the overprovision of a transient singles population living in houses which used to be family homes. He referred to Council officers repeatedly referring to the legality, or otherwise, of implementing an HMO Overprovision Policy, however no mention had been made of the system which had been in place, and operating successfully, in Dundee for over nine years.


Mr Morgan disputed that students needed to live close to their place of study and that they were not a special case compared to the rest of the population. He added that Old Aberdeen was an ancient town which was an important part of the city’s tourism industry - they needed a population 365 days a year, not a monoculture that faded away for over three months of the year. Mr Morgan drew comparison with other university towns and cities which had limits on HMOs in place, and called upon the Council to adopt something similar.


Mr Morgan stated that Old Aberdeen Community Council was content for an HMO Overprovision Policy to be rolled out across the city (not just confined to the three areas proposed in the report) and for the limit to be increased to 12.5% to match the system in place in Dundee. He emphasised that the policy was possible and practicable and it would not result in increased rents as it would not affect existing HMOs. Mr Morgan stressed that the Community Council was not against students, they were against the loss of family homes and the loss of a balanced community.


Members asked questions of Mr Morgan and thanked him for his contribution.


(C)       The Council last received a deputation from Mr Martin Wilson.


Mr Wilson stressed that multi-occupancy properties and rentals fulfilled a vital role in society and should not be restricted. He referred to Old Aberdeen Community Council’s stance against HMOs and claimed that students seemed to be being blamed for all of society’s ills which was ludicrous. There were approximately 1,000 HMOs in Aberdeen and very few of them were a problem, perhaps only 0.5%.


Mr Wilson highlighted that there was no lack of family houses in Aberdeen - there were currently 12 family houses for sale in Old Aberdeen and the immediate vicinity, and none of them were selling. He stated that HMOs did not drive families away and claimed that the attitude of Old Aberdeen Community Council was potentially a factor in driving families away. He emphasised that Old Aberdeen Community Council did not represent the views of the whole community and had mislead the Council’s Licensing Committee with regard to HMOs and the views of the community.


Mr Wilson stated that to prevent someone from living in a particular house was discrimination. He concluded that demographic changes were prevalent and that areas changed as a result - the trend in most cities was for families to move out of the city centre, they were not being pushed out of the city centre.


Members asked questions of Mr Wilson and thanked him for his contribution.


(D)       The Council had before it a report by the Interim Director of Communities, Housing and Infrastructure which advised of the response to the public consultation on the draft HMO Overprovision Policy and sought further instruction from Council.


The report recommended:-

that the Council -

(a)          note the responses received to the public consultation on the draft HMO Overprovision Policy;

(b)          note that it was not possible at the moment to assess suitably the need for HMOs in localities to an extent that would enable an Overprovision Policy to be properly formed under the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006; and

(c)          does not introduce an Overprovision Policy at this time.


The Council resolved:-

(i)           to approve the recommendations; and

(ii)          to instruct the Interim Director of Communities, Housing and Infrastructure in consultation with the Head of Legal and Democratic Services to work with the Convener of the Planning Development Management Committee and the Convener of the Licensing Committee to review the options available to facilitate mixed/balanced communities and report back to the Communities, Housing and Infrastructure Committee in January 2018.

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