The Committee was reminded that, at its June meeting, it was asked to consider whether it would be minded to grant or refuse the application for the renewal of a Licence permitting the use of premises as a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) at 93B University Avenue.
It was reported that, the Chief Executive’s decisions that were taken under delegated authority for the Licensing Committee in June, stated that, due to no consensus from the Committee, the application would be referred to committee for determination at the earliest opportunity.
The Committee was reminded that Section 8 of the Houses in Multiple Occupation Act (Northern Ireland) 2016 (“the 2016 Act”) stated that the council may grant a renewal application if it was satisfied that the applicant and their managing agent were fit and proper persons, and in assessment of this, the Council must have regard to any relevant convictions, including any offences which relate to the operation of HMOs.
The HMO Unit Manager advised that the applicant had submitted an application to renew the HMO licence for the aforementioned premises which was deemed valid on 24th April, 2020.
He highlighted that, pursuant to the 2016 Act, the applicant was required to declare any offences committed. As outlined under the Application History of the report, one of the applicants had failed to declare an offence in relation to the operation of HMOs in 2013. Therefore officers felt it was necessary to seek members’ views on whether they would be minded to either grant or refuse the licence, so that the applicant could be notified prior to the application being determined. He confirmed that the applicant was entitled to make representations in respect of the proposed decision before a final decision was made.
The HMO Unit Manager advised that, pursuant to the 2016 Act, the Council may only grant a renewal application if it was satisfied of the following:
The owner, and any managing agent of it, are fit and proper persons;
a) the applicant and their managing agent are a fit and proper person;
b) the proposed management arrangements are satisfactory; and
c) the living accommodation is fit for human habitation and—
(i) is suitable for occupation as an HMO by the number of persons to be specified in the licence, or
(ii) can be made so suitable by including conditions in the licence.
The HMO Unit Manager highlighted that as this was a renewal application planning permission and over provision could not be taken into account.
He advised that, in considering the question of fitness, the Council must have regard to whether the person had committed any offence involving –
a) Fraud or other dishonesty,
d) Human trafficking, or
e) A firearm (within the meaning of Article 2(2) of the Firearms (Northern Ireland) Order 2004);
f) an offence listed in Schedule 3 to the Sexual Offences Act 2003 (offences attracting notification requirements);
g) practised unlawful discrimination in, or in connection with, the carrying on of any business;
h) contravened any provision of the law relating to housing or of landlord and tenant law;
i) acted otherwise than in accordance with an approved code of practice.
The council must have regard to whether any associate or former associate of the applicant has engaged in any of the above conduct where it is considered relevant as to the fitness of the applicant.
The Council is also entitled to take into account any other matter which it considers to be relevant.
He advised that no objections had been received, however a small number of noise complaints had been received, the most recent being 10th March, 2020.
He informed the Committee that, due to data protection issues which had recently arisen, PSNI had not been accepting or responding to notification of these applications but Officers were continuing to engage with PSNI to find a resolution to this issue. He stated that Officers were not aware of any other issues relevant to the applicant’s fitness.
After discussion, the Committee agreed that it was minded to grant the application for the renewal of a Licence to operate a House in Multiple Occupation at 93B University Avenue.