Agenda item


TheHouses in Multiple Occupation Manager advised the Committee that the decision was not subject to call-in, as the call-in period would exceed the time limit for determining the application pursuant to Schedule 2, paragraph 2 of the Houses in Multiple Occupation Act (Northern Ireland) 2016.


He explained that the property had the benefit of an HMO licence which had been issued by the Housing Executive in the name of the of the current owner, which had expired on 3rd September, 2022.


The Members were advised that, on 17th August, 2022, an application to renew the licence had been received from the owner of the accommodation, which, on 6th September, 2022, was rejected as the applicant had failed to publish notice of the application in one or more newspapers circulating in the locality of the HMO in accordance with Regulation 2 of The Houses in Multiple Occupation (Notice of Application) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2019 or provide the Council with a copy of the notice.  A reminder of the requirement had been sent to the owner on 23rd August 2022.


On 13th September, 2022, an application for a Temporary Exemption Notice “TEN” had been received and was subsequently approved on the same day, an extension to the TEN was approvedon 8th December, 2022, which expired on 8th March, 2023. No further extensions to theTEN were permitted under the 2016 Act.  On 13th June, 2023, an HMO licence application was received from the owner of the accommodation.


TheHouses in Multiple Occupation Manager outlined that, pursuant to the 2016 Act, the Council could only grant a licence if it was 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, were fit and proper persons;

c)     the proposed management arrangements were satisfactory);

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

e)     the living accommodation was fit for human habitation and

                                                   i.          was suitable for occupation as an HMO by the number of persons to be specified in the licence, or

                                                 ii.          could be made so suitable by including conditions in the licence.


He confirmed to the Committee, that, as it was a new application, the Council’s Planning Service was consulted.  It had confirmed that a Certificate of Lawful Existing Use or Development (“CLEUD”) had been granted on 3rd April, 2023.


It was reported that the NIHMO Unit had consulted with Environmental Protection Unit in relation to nighttime and daytimenoise; Public Health and Housing Unit in relation to rubbish accumulation/filthy premises; and the Enforcement Unit in relation to litter and waste and all had confirmed that there had been no relevant enforcement action required in respect of any of the issues in the HMO in the last 5 years.  The Applicant and Managing Agent had also confirmed that they had not been convicted of any relevant offences.


No objections were received in relation to the application.


The Committee was advised that, for the purposes of Section 12(2) of the 2016 Act, the Council had determined the locality of the accommodation as being Housing Management Area (HMA) “2/03 Ballynafeigh” as defined in the document Belfast City Council’s Local Development Plan Strategy which had been formally adopted on 2nd May, 2023.  Legal Services had advised that there was a clear requirement upon the Council, in Section 8 of the 2016 Act,to be satisfied that the granting of a licence would not result in overprovision.  In making such a decision, the Council had had regard to:


a)     the number and capacity of licensed HMOs in the locality; and

b)     the need for housing accommodation in the locality and the extent to which HMO accommodation was required to meet that need.


To inform the Council in its consideration of the above provisions, the Council had taken account of the 2023 Strategy given that “Nurturing sustainable and balanced communities was a fundamental aim of the LDP’s housing policies.”  In particular, the Council had considered Policy HOU10, which stated:


“Within designated HMAs, planning permission will only be granted for Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) and/or flats/apartments where the total number of HMOs and flats/apartments combined would not as a result exceed 20% of all dwelling units within an HMA.”


TheHouses in Multiple Occupation Manager reported that, on the date of assessment, 16th August, 2023, 24% of all dwelling units in policy area HMA 2/03 Ballynafeigh” were made up of HMOs and flats/apartments, which in turn exceeded the 20% development limit as set out at Policy HOU10.  The Members were advised that there were 77 (4.65%) licensed HMOs with a capacity of 345 persons in HMA 2/03 Ballynafeigh.


It was outlined that there were a total of 1649 dwelling units in “HMA 2/03 Ballynafeigh”.  The Committee was advised that the fact that the use of the property as an HMO was permitted for planning purposes was arelevant consideration in determining whether the granting of the licence would result inoverprovision. 


The Houses in Multiple Occupation Manager reminded the Committee that there was a need for intensive forms of housing and, to meet that demand, HMOs were an important component of the housing provision. HMOs, alongside other accommodation options within the private rented sector, played an important role in meeting the housing needs of people who were single, who had temporary employment, students, low income households and, more recently, migrant workers.


On 16th August 2023 out of 30 premises available for rent on the PropertyNews website, within the BT7 area, there were 7 licensed HMOs which represented 29 bed spaces.The availability of the HMO accommodation ranged from immediately to September 2023 and anecdotal evidence from previous conversations with HMO managing agents suggested that that there was currently a lack of HMO accommodation available in that locality.


TheHouses in Multiple Occupation Manager explained that, in assessing the number and capacity of licensed HMOs, as well as the need for HMO accommodation in the locality, officers could not be satisfied that the granting of the HMO licence would not result in overprovision of HMO accommodation in the locality of the accommodation for the purpose of section 8(2)(d) of the 2016 Act.


            The Chairperson welcomed the Applicant, Ms. O. O’Sullivan, and her Managing Agent, Mr. C. Dolan, to the meeting. 


      (As neither deputation had consented to being recorded the audio stream was switched off at this point in proceedings)


            Ms. O’Sullivan advised the Committee that she had been a landlord for ten years and that she had been told that she was required to place the advert in two papers, which had caused the delay.  She also stated that she would have submitted her application earlier had she known about the 20% limit within Policy HOU10 in the LDP.  She stated that it had taken the Planning Service 7 months to consider her CLUED application, which had further delayed her application.


            After discussion, it was


            Moved by Councillor McCann,

            Seconded by Councillor Smyth and


      Resolved – That the Committee agrees to refuse the application as, in accordance with Section 12 of the Houses in Multiple Occupation Act (Northern Ireland) 2016, it was satisfied that the granting of the HMO licence would result in overprovision of HMO accommodation in the locality of the accommodation, as determined under section 8(2)(d) of the Act.


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