Lincoln council assesses shared homes after opposing petitions

The City of Lincoln Council is considering its management of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) in the city, after receiving consultation feedback and conflicting petitions.

More than 140 people took the opportunity to respond to a consultation on the management of HMOs in Lincoln.

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

Article 4 would mean there are more processes involved in adding more HMOs and would mean all HMO properties would go through planning.

Most of the 142 responses came from residents, with some input from businesses and landlords.

More than 75% of people who responded said they were affected by HMOs, with nearly 74% of all respondents saying there was a need for the council to explore the use of additional measures to manage them.

Evidence gathered during the consultation is now being considered by officers.

Business cases are being prepared for consideration by the council’s Policy Scrutiny Committee:

  • Accreditation and discretionary licensing scheme for private sector housing
  • Article 4 direction – requiring planning permission for HMOs
  • Lobby central government for changes in the law to improve controls in respect of HMOs
  • Strengthen planning policy position through emerging local plan
  • Continue to implement existing measures

When asked to rank the options in order of which they thought most appropriate, 57% of respondents said introducing an Article 4 direction would be their first choice, followed by strengthening landlord accreditation schemes and continuing with existing measures.

Strengthening planning policy and lobbying central Government – which would remove the need for local authorities to introduce local measures – were considered less appropriate.

The consultation followed a 1,100 name petition presented to full council on August 12, 2014, calling for an Article 4 direction to be introduced in the West End – the area of the city where the density of HMOs is highest.

In response to the consultation, the University of Lincoln Students’ Union submitted a 1,626-name petition opposing the introduction of Article 4, and 14 written responses were also received.

Cllr Chris Burke, Chair of the council’s Policy Scrutiny Committee, said: “We’re pleased so many people have taken this opportunity to express their views, which shows how important an issue the management of HMOs is in Lincoln.

“Officers are now working to analyse in more detail the comments we have received, and councillors sitting on the Policy Scutiny Committee will review these responses ahead of the next meeting on November 12.

“We are well aware that HMOs provide an important source of private rented accommodation, but also that such properties can present issues around their maintenance and the number of people living in one house.

“We need to consider all the options available to us and what effects these would have in every area of Lincoln. Whichever option – or options – we choose to pursue, we would need to support our decision with robust evidence, which is why this consultation process was so important.”

Representatives from a number of groups, including the West End Residents’ Association, National Landlords Association and ward members and residents from across the city will present evidence at the meeting of the Policy Scrutiny Committee on Wednesday, November 12, from 6pm at the Alive Conference Centre in Newland.

Members will then make a recommendation of which option or options to pursue, to be considered by the council’s Executive Committee on December 15.