A House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) is currently defined in the Housing (Northern Ireland) Order 1992 as “a house occupied by more than 2 qualifying persons, being persons who are not all members of the same family.” This definition includes applicable properties owned and operated by housing associations.
As a result of welfare reforms such as changes to the housing benefit hared accommodation rate, there is an increased demand for HMOs in Northern Ireland. NIFHA recognises that in order to better manage and improve HMO standards, a review of legislation is required. Due to the greater risks with HMOs, in comparison to other rented accommodation, there is a need for greater and more targeted regulation.
NIFHA welcomes the opportunity to provide this written response to the Houses in Multiple Occupation Bill, as introduced in Northern Ireland. NIFHA supports the over-arching objectives of the legislation to better regulate HMOs and streamline the definition.
NIFHA’s response to the consultation makes the following key points:
- We consider the existing definition of HMOs to be too wide-ranging and this causes the regulation of properties where it is not required.
- NIFHA supports the exemption of housing association properties from the proposed HMO legislation, as it recognises the greater regulatory requirements placed on properties owned and operated by our members.
- Our members must comply with the Department for Social Development (DSD) Housing Association Guide. This currently refers to the Housing Executive’s published Approved Standards for HMOs.
- Clarity should be provided as to any changes to the supported housing design standards set out in the DSD guide as a consequence of new HMO legislation.
A copy of the full response can be downloaded here