Agenda item


            The HMO Unit Manager provided the Committee with an overview of the undernoted report:


“1.0     Purpose of Report or Summary of main Issues


1.1       To consider an application for a Licence permitting the use of premises as a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO).



Application No.


Managing Agents

179 Stranmillis Road




Mrs Maeve Fee

Fetherston Clements

Estate Agents


1.2       Members are reminded that licences are issued for a 5-year period with standard conditions. Where it is considered necessary to do so, the Committee can also impose special conditions.






1.3       The property had the benefit of an HMO licence which expired on the 07 December 2021.


1.4       An application for the renewal of the HMO licence was received from the applicant on 06 December 2021.


1.5       Following the publication of this application, an objection was received in relation to the application. This objection raises the following concerns: -


·        Neglect of the property and environs

·        Invasion of privacy

·        Personal abuse / low level intimidation ASB

·        Inconsiderate and unreasonable behaviour

·        Parties at night with large gatherings and loud music

·        Leaving property unsecured

·        Leaving floodlights on all night which disturbs other neighbours

·        Devaluation of property due to designation and neglect

·        Parking across driveway

·        Overgrown leylandii trees to the front of the property


1.6       As a valid objection has been received, the application must be considered by Committee which must, after hearing from the objector and the applicant, decide whether to grant the renewal application. 


2.0            Recommendations


2.1       Taking into account the information presented Committee is asked to hear from the Applicant and make a decision to either:


(i)          Grant the renewal application, with or without any special conditions; or

(ii)        Refuse the application.


2.2       If the application is refused, the Applicants have a right of appeal to the County Court. Such an appeal must be lodged within 28 days of formal notification of the decision.



3.0       Main Report


            Key Issues


3.1       Pursuant to the Houses in Multiple Occupation Act (Northern Ireland) 2016 (“the 2016 Act”), the Council may only grant a licence if it is satisfied that:


a)          the occupation of the living accommodation as an HMO would not constitute a breach of planning control;


b)          the owner, and any managing agent of it, are fit and proper persons;


c)          the proposed management arrangements are satisfactory);


d)          the granting of the licence will not result in overprovision of HMOs in the locality;


e)          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.


3.2       Section 20 of the 2016 Act states where the holder of an HMO licence makes an application for renewal, the council must apply the above provisions except for (a) and (d); namely whether the use is a breach of planning control or would result in overprovision.




3.3       When considering the fitness of an applicant the Council must have regard to any offences concerning fraud/ dishonesty, violence, drugs, human trafficking, firearms, sexual offences, unlawful discrimination in, or in connection with, the carrying on of any business; or any provision of the law relating to housing or of landlord and tenant law. It also permits the Council to take into account any other matter which the council considers to be relevant.


3.4       The NIHMO Unit has consulted with the following units within the Council’s City and Neighbourhood Services Department –


(a)      Environmental Protection Unit (“EPU”) - who have confirmed that in relation to night-time noise there has been no relevant enforcement action required in respect of the HMO in the last 5 years,


(b)     Environmental Protection Unit (“EPU”) - who have confirmed that in relation to day-time noise there has been no relevant enforcement action required in respect of the HMO in the last 5 years, 


(c)      Public Health and Housing Unit (“PHHU”) - who have confirmed that in relation to rubbish accumulation/filthy premises, there has been no relevant enforcement action required in respect of the HMO in the last 5 years,


(d)     Enforcement Unit (“EU”) - who have confirmed that in relation to litter and waste, there has been no relevant enforcement action required in respect of the HMO in the last 5 years.


3.5       The Applicant and Managing Agent have confirmed that they have not been convicted of any relevant offences as set out at paragraph 3.3 of this report.


3.6       The Applicant or Managing Agent have not been convicted of any HMO related offences by the Council. The EPU, PHHU and EU, solely in respect of their statutory functions, have confirmed that there are no relevant, previous convictions in respect of the Applicant, Managing Agent or occupants. Due to data protection issues which have arisen, PSNI have not been accepting or responding to notification of these applications.


3.7       The NIHMO Unit received 5 complaints regarding the subject premises, details of those complaints and the action undertaken by officers in response are included in Appendix 2.


3.8       Officers are not aware of any other issues relevant to the Applicant’s fitness.




3.9       In accordance with paragraph 4 of schedule 2 of the 2016 Act, a representation is only valid if it –


(a)        is made in writing,

(b)        sets out the name and address of the person making the representation, and

(c)        is made on or before the deadline for making written representations.


3.10     Following the publication of the notice of the application, a valid representation was received in relation to the renewal application. A copy of the representation and associated document bundle is appended to this report at Appendix 3.




3.11     The applicant and/or their representatives will be available to discuss any matters relating to the licence application should they arise during your meeting. The objector will also be in attendance if members wish to hear from her.


            Suitability of the premises


3.12     The accommodation was certified as complying with the physical standards for an HMO by a technical officer from the NIHMO service on the 07 February 2022.


Notice of proposed decision


3.13     On the 23 February 2022, pursuant to Paragraph 9 of Schedule 2 of the 2016 Act, Officers issued a Notice of Proposed Decision to the Applicant setting out the terms of the proposed licence. Appendix 4.


3.14     The Notice of Proposed Decision stated that the council proposed to grant the licence in the terms applied for.


Applicant’s response to the notice of proposed decision


3.15     On the 9 March 2022 the applicant submitted a written response to the notice of proposed decision Appendix 5. The response deals with the representations and objections set out by the objector and provides commentary on each of main areas of concern.


Financial and Resource Implications


3.16     None. The cost of assessing the application and officer inspections are provided for within existing budgets.


Equality and Good Relations Implications


3.17     There are no equality or good relations issues associated with this report.”


            The Chairperson welcomed the objector to the application, to the meeting, and invited them to outline her reasons for objecting to the renewal of the licence. 


            She informed the Committee that the current management arrangements for the property were not satisfactory and that, over the previous five years, she had suffered continuous disruption to family life, and despite continuous complaints to the landlord, managing agent and numerous tenants, the problems remained ongoing.


            She outlined situations, such as late-night parties, loud music, numerous individuals coming and going, disarray in the surrounds of the house and confrontations with various tenants.  She described how living next door to the property had negatively impacted on her and her family’s lives.


            The Chairperson welcomed Ms. C. Greene, of Fetherson Clemments Estate Agents, the Property Agent for the Applicant, and Ms. M. Fee, the Owner and Applicant, to the meeting. 


            Ms. Greene explained that as the Property Management Agent for the property, she has had a good relationship with the owner and has always made time to discuss property matters and undertake required works for the maintenance of the property.  She informed the Members that she felt the applicant surpassed the requirements to be classified as a fit and proper person.


            She reported that the applicant had made significant and continual investment in the property and had worked with the Council to ensure that the property would meet the HMO requirements and that officers had been satisfied following their last inspection.


            She stated that she had no evidence that the property had ever been sub-let or unsecured and that it was a well-maintained property, where the surrounding area had a healthy mix of abodes and was an area of high demand.  She added that she had received no complaints from the other neighbouring property. 


            She advised the Members that there had been an antisocial behaviour plan in place which included pre-tenancy checks, signing all tenants onto a tenancy agreement, interventions if incidents did occur and prevention of future incidents.


            She informed the Committee that the current, young professional tenants had previously lived in another property managed by the Agent and that there had been no complaints and they had been highly recommended by their previous landlord.  She added that the current tenants had complained of feeling harassed by the complaints and felt that the noise coming from the property had not been excessive.  However, she acknowledged that the Council’s Noise Team had attended a recent incident where the early morning noise had been audible and that the tenants had been provided with a warning.


            Ms. Greene stated that the current tenants had been informed that their tenancy would not be renewed after their tenancy agreement had ended.


            Several of the Members commended the objector for her submission of a comprehensive and compelling case and expressed sympathy with her and her family, due to the impact of the antisocial behaviour that had been endured whist the property had operated as a House in Multiple Occupation.  A Member objected to the inference that the current tenants of the property felt aggrieved that complaints, some of which had been validated by the Council’s Noise Team, had been made.


            One Member referred to the lack of intervention from multiple agencies in response to the continual complaints and referred to Schedule 2(b) of the HMO Act (Northern Ireland) 2016, ‘the proposed management arrangements for the living accommodation are satisfactory’, stating that, she felt in light of the case presented by the Objector, this condition had not been complied with and that a responsibility lay with the Committee to act in its role as the licensor.


            Following further discussion, the Committee agreed to refuse the application and delegated authority to the Director of City Services to finalise the reasons for refusal.


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