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Houses in Multiple Occupation

Volume 502: debated on Tuesday 8 December 2009

Since the introduction of the licensing provisions for houses in multiple occupation, councils in England have received applications for about 30,000 HMOs, and have issued licences for about 20,000.

I thank the Minister for his response. Last year, I asked Denbighshire county council how many HMOs it had licensed in a three-year period. The answer was just 33. After pressure, it has agreed to apply for additional and selective licensing, and next year it will start on licensing 433, taking the council from the worst to the best in the country. What lessons has the Minister learned from the Welsh experience in increasing the number of HMOs that are licensed?

The whole House will have heard my hon. Friend and learned the lesson that local authorities that are prepared to tackle the worst landlords in their area, and to build up concentrations of HMOs that change its nature and character, are able to put in place additional licensing schemes. I am glad to hear about the successful campaign that he has run to persuade his council in that regard. That is precisely the way ahead, as we want councils to make maximum use of the provisions that are in place at present.

Landlord licensing is one solution, but the use classes order is far more significant in many areas with concentrations of HMOs. Will the Minister give me an update on the progress of the Government’s examination of that? Does he agree that restrictions on the number of HMOs in such areas will increase the balance of the community and be in the interests of all?

Indeed, and that is why our general policy is to promote mixed communities, as they tend to be better balanced and more stable. The hon. Gentleman asked for an update on our examination of whether changes to the use classes might help us pursue our objectives. At present, we are sifting the 900 or so responses that we have received to the consultation, and I hope to be able to update the House on this shortly.