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Edinburgh landlord stripped of HMO licence but maintains Airbnb listing

An Edinburgh landlord has been stripped of his HMO licence after he caused flooding to a neighbour’s property, but he has been allowed to continue to use the property as an Airbnb.

Edinburgh City Council’s licensing sub-committee refused Mr Tahir Ali’s renewed HMO application for his flat on Clerk Street after councillors heard complaints over flooding and anti-social behaviour, all whilst building work was carried out on the property without proper permissions.

Catherine Scanlin, the council’s licensing manager, told councillors that the objection, by Graham Muir, was due to a “breakdown in the relationship with the owner of the property” and that there “seems to be a history of flooding into another property”.

Mr Muir, who runs a laundry cafe below the flat, said that as many as 11 people stayed in the flat at any one time, despite having a capacity of just five.

It was also confirmed by building standards officers that en-suite showers had been installed in the flat “without permission” after a building warrant application was refused.

Mr Muir told the Edinburgh Evening News: “The shop has been flooded on a number of occasions. The ceiling caved in and it’s now propped up with scaffolding. It’s a complete disaster. There are people coming and going all the time, there are junkies that get in. He refuses to help – he’s just not bothered. He’s not a responsible person – it’s a ghost hostel.”

A ghost hostel or hotel is where an unsupervised property has each room let out individually without adhering to regulations required by law.

Mr Ali argued that Mr Muir “has had it in for me since day one” and insists on “sticking his nose into everybody else’s business except his own”.

Mr Ali did admit that he shouldn’t have carried out the work on his property without securing permission. He said: “Applications have been submitted. In hindsight I should have waited but because the workmen were in place, I carried on. Nothing is illegal, everything is above board. I offered to do his ceiling up and he said he didn’t want my ‘cowboys’ going in there.”

He added: “It’s not a hostel, it’s a HMO – it always has been. The current situation is that it’s let as an Airbnb holiday let. There have never been 11 people, not to my knowledge – and I manage the premises.”

The property currently has one permanent resident, while the remainder is let out as Airbnb-style short term lets.

Licensing officials told Mr Ali that he does not need any planning permission to operate as an Airbnb.

Source: Scottish Housing News

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Armley Park Road HMO application withdrawn

An application to convert a four-bedroomed house in Armley Park Road into a six-bedroomed house of multiple occupation (HMO) has been withdrawn, writes Keely Bannister.

According to a notice issued by Leeds City Council, the application was withdrawn following an e-mail from Michael Sunderland from DMS Architecture Ltd, who is the development’s agent.

Details of the e-mail has not been made publicly available.

Mr Carpenter lodged the application with Leeds City Council in July, with the notice to withdraw being placed in December.

The proposed development would have involved the lowering of the properties basement floor and the conversion of this space from storage into a living room and en-suite bedroom.

The ground floor living room would also have been converted into a bedroom.

As reported previously in The Dispatch, objections were lodged against the application with other residents on the street stating that the property was being “kept in a state of disrepair” and that the road is “already packed full of cars” which “packing in more renting tenants” wouldn’t improve.

Consultation was sought from the Canal and River Trust, who had no comment to make and the council’s Highways Team, who had no objection to the application, subject to a number of conditions around cycle and bin storage being met.

Source: West Leeds Dispatch

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Plans to turn Wrexham town centre property into House in Multiple Occupation allowed on appeal

PLANS to turn Wrexham town centre property into a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) have been allowed on appeal.

Last year, Wrexham Council planning committee members voted unanimously to reject proposals to convert the property in Albert Street, Smithfield, into a six-bedroom HMO following a site visit.

Members voted unanimously to reject the application based on the concerns over inadequate parking provision.

But  applicant Arran Pritchard has lodged an appeal with the Planning Inspectorate in the hope of overturning the committee’s decision.

Mr Pritchard appealed on the grounds that it had been recommended for permission to be granted for the development.

He said converting the property to a HMO would have no negative effect on parking and added the property is in a sustainable location given proximity to bus routes and easy walking distance to nearby shops and facilities.

Planning Inspectorate officer Clive Sproule agreed, giving the greenlight for the development to go ahead.

Mr Sproule said a report provided by Wrexham Council’s service manager for the environment, Darren Williams, showed the scheme would not be likely to result in greater on-street parking demand.

And evidence provided by Mr Pritchard supported that view.

Mr Sproule said: “Off-street car parking opportunities are limited, which will cause many vehicle drivers and owners who live in these streets to rely on on-street parking.

”While doubts have been raised regarding the basis of the appellant’s evidence, there is no convincing evidence that demonstrates the service manager environment’s assessment and conclusion on the possible impact is likely to be unreliable.

”Consequently, it is not apparent that on-street parking would be likely to increase due to the appeal scheme. In this regard, the council has failed to demonstrate that the appeal proposal would be unacceptably harmful to local living conditions or highway safety.”

He concluded: “The proposal would result in social benefit through the provision of homes for people within a particular sector of the housing market.

”They would be in a location that would provide pedestrian access to the jobs, services and transport opportunities within the centre of Wrexham.

”Occupants of the rooms would contribute to the local economy and it has not been shown that the development would have anything other than a neutral impact on local culture.

”Accordingly, the appeal scheme would be a sustainable form of development and should be allowed.”

Source: The Leader

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HMO plans for vacant Rhosddu property rejected by councillors

Plans to convert a property into Rhosddu into a HMO have been rejected by councillors.

The application to convert the property at 36 Rhosddu Road into a one bedroom self-contained flat and a five bedroom HMO (House Multiple Occupation) was submitted to Wrexham Council in September 2017.

The property is described in the application’s design and access statement as a three storey, Victorian mid-terrace dwelling that has been vacant for sometime and lies in a state of disrepair.

At present the building consists of a living room, dining room and a former kitchen and shower room at basement level. Two bedrooms and a further kitchen area are on the ground floor entrance level and a further three bedrooms and bathroom at the first level.

However the plans put forward proposed a remodelling of the building, along with converting the basement into a one bedroom apartment and the first and ground floors into a five bedroom HMO.

The proposals had been recommended for approval, with planning officer David Williams stating the committee would need to evaluate if “one additional HMO in that building would adversely affect the character” of that area.

In terms of approving the application, councillors told that the key consideration related to the concentration of HMOs in a 50m radius and if it goes over a 10% threshold. In this case there is already in excess of 14% of HMO properties and if the application was approved it would take the percentage to 17%.

Mr Williams said: “We need to look at the circumstances relating to that site, there is already a concentrated cluster.

“It is an area of mixed-use, it is not primarily residential and I think if you were looking to refuse, you need to be asking how one additional HMO would alter the character of that area given it would be sandwiched either side by an existing HMO.

“We have obtained information with the Council Tax records and it appears the property has been unoccupied since 2011, so it provides and opportunity to bring a beneficial use back into the building.

“I appreciate we are still working on new guidance for HMOs, so I don’t think it is something we can use at this point to justify the determination of this applications.

“We have tended to use the 10% figure in the past, in this case would accept it goes beyond the 10% limit. Again we need to look at the individual circumstances on the site and as an individual case.”

He added: “I think you need to ask yourself how one additional HMO in that building would adversely affect the character of the area.”

However Grovsenor Cllr Marc Jones described the situation with HMOs as “frustrating” and a “catch 22”, with the committee told previously that they could not refuse an application on the basis of not hitting the 10% threshold. However in this instance councillors were being told that “one more won’t make a difference”.

Cllr Jones said: “I want to give a background on the location. It is important people understand it is a very built area, it is mixed and I would challenge the view that it is not primarily residential.

“This block of five terrace houses directly overlooks Rhosddu Park and is adjacent to the cemetery. We have had a PSPO (Public Space Protection Area) to prevent people engaging in antisocial behaviour in place for a couple of years, with limited success, but that is as a result of concerns people have had about antisocial behaviour in this area.

“There have been public meetings and has been significant concerns in terms of police activity and because of that I am struggling really to understand the logic behind this.

“Given the concerns that have been reflected locally, I think Planning Policy H4 is clear and worth reading in its entirety and the last clause – the sub division of dwellings will only be permitted when a proposal would not result in the over concentration of HMOs to the detriment of crime levels, social fabric of the area and amenity of existing residents.

“That is fairly concise and clear cut. I don’t think we need to look any further.”

He added: “The idea that one more doesn’t make a difference, it does – one more makes huge difference. We have to be careful in ways we deal with the individual planning applications, there is a bigger picture we have to address.

“I am here to represent the concerns of residents in Rhosddu. I think there is a danger that we could set a dangerous precedent that landlords who have long-term empty dwellings feel they can get away with anything if they leave a dwelling empty long enough. It is a dangerous precedent to set.

“On the basis of Policy H4 I recommend refusal. It goes against our policy and think there is a very clear case.”

The recommendation for refusal was seconded by Cllr Paul Pemberton, who said he agreed that there are too many HMOs in such a small area.

Cllr I David Bithell, who represents the neighbouring Stansty ward, added: “There are too many HMOs and too much antisocial behaviour. Police are supporting us to try and reduce it and I think we need to make a stand.

“I am disappointed with the planning officer for recommending approval. I thought he would be supporting us on refusal.”

Members of the committee voted unanimously for refusing the application.