Lincoln council consulting on stricter rules for shared homes

Lincoln residents, landlords, universities and organisations are being invited to give their views on multiple occupancy homes (HMOs) in the city.

The City of Lincoln Council is looking to review the number of HMOs in the city and the different options to deal with them.

The review comes after a 1,100-strong petition was submitted to Full Council on August 12, calling for an introduction of Article 4 in the West End.

Article 4 would mean there are more processes involved in adding more HMOs into certain areas of the city, looking at the need of the area. This would mean all HMO properties would go through planning.

If such an article was approved, it would not affect houses already converted into HMOs, and notice would be given to those going through the process of conversion.

HMOs cover student accommodation and private rented homes in the city, where a number of people may be living but are not a family unit. These are known as house shares.

A HMO needs a license if it is three or more storeys high with five or more people forming two or more households – there are 187 of these operating in Lincoln, and 75 are in the West End.

The boom in HMOs in Lincoln is driven by factors such as a growing university, fewer people being able to afford to buy, and the long waiting lists for public sector housing.

The council feels that while a rise in HMOs responds to changing needs in the housing market, it needs to look on the impact this may have on the communities within wards.

The petition from the West End area comes off the back of noise complaints, overcrowding, the cleanliness issues.

This means on September 24, the Policy Scrutiny Committee will begin to assess the scope of work and consultation that needs to be carried out ahead of exploring options.

Options for change include the addition of Article 4, further licensing and accreditation schemes, lobbying the Government for changes to planning regulations or improve planning policies through the upcoming Local Plan.

The City Council wants to see sustainable communities which offers good quality, affordable housing for everyone needs that are also safe and secure.

Current accreditation schemes to help improve areas include the Decent and Safe Homes (DASH) Landlord Accreditation Scheme, Lincoln Student Housing Accreditation Scheme, plus community cohesion initiatives such as Meet the Street and the SHUSH campaign.

Leader of the City of Lincoln Council, Councillor Ric Metcalfe, said: “The Executive has asked the Policy Scrutiny Committee to scope out a study on the impact of HMOs in Lincoln.

“We know it’s a long-standing challenge for the city, because this is a sector that has grown enormously: partly students but also lots of people need rented accommodation because they can’t buy or get council accommodation.

“We want the committee to have a look at what the council’s been doing so far to manage the problem and what new measure might be needed to deal with it in the future.

“It’s too early to say what the impact would be on developers wishing to convert residential properties as it depends on what the Scrutiny Committee recommends.

“The council wants a thorough understanding of the nature and extent of the problem; we want the committee to review all of the options of measures we are not using and an evaluation of what we are doing, and to be advised on what would be the best solution, taking into account what those affected think about the issue.”

People may have their say in writing from September 25 until October 24. Landlords, residents and organisations will then be invited to speak to the committee on November 12 at the Alive Church on Newland, so a recommendation can be made to take to the Executive on December 15 for a final decision.