Police: Shared home limit would pose community risk

POLICE and fire chiefs have raised serious concerns about any move to limit the number of houses in multiple occupation in Glasgow.

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Last year, the city council launched a wide-ranging consultation on the provision of HMOs, particularly in the West End.

This week, councillors will be told senior members of the emergency services fear putting a cap on the number of premises to be licensed would result in illegal, unlicensed premises springing up.

Richard Brown, the council's executive director of ­development and regeneration, also raised concerns over restricting HMO numbers to stop too many opening.

He said: "The safety and welfare of tenants would be jeopardised should a widespread policy on over-provision be implemented, with landlords reverting to letting illegally."

Police Scotland insist there is a continued need for HMOs throughout Glasgow, which is likely to increase in line with welfare reforms.

And senior officers say refusing to allow new ones to open up may lead to more illegal operations which would not be subject to scrutiny.

Their response concluded: "Any restriction on the levels of HMO availability may result in the weakening of power to maintain public safety within the HMO and the wider community."

However almost half of people who responded to the consultation felt there was already too many HMOs in certain areas, including Hillhead, Woodlands and Anderston.

The report say a large number of people believe many are operating without a licences resulting in anti-social behaviour, increased rubbish in communal areas, and noise problems.

It adds: "Other negative impacts mentioned included deterioration of properties and neglect of an area, the transient nature of residents that can lead to people not taking care of their properties, communal maintenance falling below acceptable standards due to absentee landlords, families being driven out of areas and lower prices for surrounding properties.

"It is evident from the terms of the consultation responses and the submissions made by two of the community council representatives that there are significant concerns regarding the impact of high concentrations of HMOs, particularly in the West End of the city.

"These concerns were clearly genuine and were expressed by those who are well-placed to comment on the impact HMOs have on their local area.

"However, it is also clear from the views expressed that there is a continuing need and demand for HMO accommodation and that there is considerable concern regarding the potential for an increase in the number of unlicensed HMOs in the event a policy is introduced which seeks to limit the number of licences granted in any particular locality.

"A number of respondents, including those from the Scottish Fire and Rescue ­Service, Police Scotland and development and regeneration services highlighted the potentially serious impact this could have on the safety and welfare of tenants, which goes against the primary responsibility of the council as licensing authority."

Councillors will be told that without specific guidance from the Scottish Government there is presently no basis on which to develop a legally sound policy on over-provision of HMOs

The report adds: "Given these issues, members may wish to consider raising this matter with the Scottish Government in order to seek their agreement to undertake a full review and consultation at a national level."

It also suggests that a further review and consultation should be carried out in 2016 if no statutory rules or guidance on over-provision of HMOs is made available by Holyrood.

vivienne.nicoll@eveningtimes.

Local government

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