Possible Homelessness Increase
29 October 2001

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There is growing concern in the Highlands that the mandatory licensing of houses in multiple occupation will result in the closure of some houses because the owners will not be able to meet new standards, with a resultant increase in homeless people. Such are the concerns about the recent legislation introduced by the Scottish Executive that a public meeting is being called on Thursday 8 November between noon and 2 pm at the Town House, Inverness to identify action
that can be taken to protect vulnerable people.

Organising the meeting are Inverness Council for the Single Homeless and the
Scottish Association of Landlords (Inverness Branch).  Council for the Single Homeless Chair Alexander Campbell, believes there is a danger that Houses in Multiple Occupation will close and this could result in an increase in the already significant homeless numbers.  Mr Campbell said: "Initially it looked as though the HMO legislation would be implemented with a high degree of flexibility and it is recognised that  The Highland Council have introduced a system of relaxations. However the standards are still high and will require substantial investment by all accommodation

Scottish Association of Landlords Chair Stephen Peasnall says some members are considering selling their properties rather than face the ongoing cost of the implementation of the new legislation.  He said: "Added to this, the rising property values in Inverness will mean the value of an HMO, which will be dampened by the HMO regulations, will have less value than if it were to be sold on the residential market. This may cause some current landlords to look at the viability of continuing to provide accommodation. Although the licensing fee is set at a reasonable level associated costs to meet Highland Council regulations greatly add to the burden already placed upon landlords to comply with the implementation of this legislation."

Both ICSH and SAL (Inverness Branch) welcome the introduction of this legislation, as it will improve the overall standards of accommodation available to people of limited means. However, there is a need for this legislation to be implemented with a degree of flexibility and discretion
backed up by financial support.  Iain Mackenzie, Housing Development Officer, The Highland Council said: "The Council welcomes the opportunity to meet with all those who may have an
interest in Houses in Multiple Occupation whether they are landlords, tenants, property owners or neighbours. The meeting will give everyone an opportunity to speak on this issue."