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Multiple Occupation

Volume 485: debated on Thursday 18 December 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government with reference to the answer of 25 November 2008, Official Report, column 1274W, on multiple occupation, if she will publish a list of all those who have given evidence to the Building Research Establishment review of houses in multiple occupation legislation. (244418)

The Department is unable to provide this information. Evidence provided to the Building Research Establishment (BRE) by stakeholders has been treated in confidence. Details on the number of responses and their views will be reflected in the final report on a non-attributable basis. The final report is due to be published in spring 2009.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government with reference to the answer of 18 February 2008, Official Report, column 47W, on multiple occupation: licensing, for what reasons 14 per cent. of local authorities are not using a range of tools to identify houses in multiple occupation being operated illegally without a licence. (244429)

The Department does not hold this information. The Department has funded Local Authorities Co-ordinators of Regulatory Services (LACORS) to support local housing authorities in England and Wales in implementing mandatory licensing of houses of multiple occupation (HMOs). LACORS issues guidance, advice, and coordinates and disseminates best practice in relation to regulation of private sector housing.

The survey conducted by LACORs in August 2007 concluded that 86 per cent. of councils were using a range of tools to identify HMOs being operated illegally without a licence. LACORs produced good practice guidance for local authorities on tackling unlicensed HMOs in February 2008.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) with reference to the answer of 17 November 2008, Official Report, column 129W, on multiple occupation: coastal areas, for what reasons the information requested is not held centrally; (244439)

(2) with reference to the answer of 25 November 2008, Official Report, column 1274W, on multiple occupation: coastal areas, for what reasons information on the take-up of mandatory licensing of houses in multiple occupation licences in seaside towns is not available centrally;

(3) with reference to the Answer of 17 November 2008, Official Report, column 129W, on multiple occupation: coastal areas, if she will make it her policy to (a) collect and (b) hold centrally information on houses of multiple occupation in seaside towns.

Communities and Local Government does collect from local authorities their estimates of the total numbers of HMOs but only at local authority level. It is not possible to break these figures down below local authority level but in many cases the local authority statistics on HMOs will approximate to the seaside towns that they either contain or constitute. The latest figures are for April 2007 and these can be found on the Department's website at:

http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/housing/xls/sectionsfg.xls.

The Department also collects information on licensing of HMOs. Although this is at property level the Department is not currently in a position to produce statistics for seaside towns. This is under review. For the latest statistics on HMO licensing for the local authorities that contain or constitute seaside towns I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave on 15 December 2008, Official Report, column 372W-73W.

It is not possible to calculate take up rates for HMO licensing, for either seaside towns or local authorities, because there is no practical source for information at local level on the total numbers of licensable HMOs.