Cllr Mike Todd-Jones Seconds Motion on Regulation of Shared Houses





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Published on Apr 22, 2012

Arbury, Cambridge, councillor Mike Todd-Jones speaking at the 19th April 2012 Cambridge City Council Full Council Meeting.



Thank you Mr Mayor.

Thank you Cllr Marchant-Daisley for giving a represenative overview of our position.

I just want to let you know where we stand on a few points:

As we've made clear if you read the motion carefully we are not planning to prescribe policy in any way.

It is quite clear in the motion that what we are calling for is a report to assess options to improve the operation and regulation of HMOs in Cambridge, and regarding the planning aspects, future options including the target figures that Cllr Marchant-Daisley talked about should enable us to look at the proposals relating to the forthcoming Cambridge Local Plan 2014 to 2031. This motion does not set out things in stone its very much looking to open things up and debate the proposals.

There are a few other points. Oxford was referred to, and I know there have been of other cities where we have had examples of additional licensing proposals being brought forward. I believe in Peterborough, Reading and Swansea, sometimes these are city wide proposals and sometimes a certain area. This council could look at those practices, they could form part of the base for a report; we need an evidence base and not simply rely on some of the commentary which is coming out of Oxford which is a dire prediction of the additional licensing policy with rising costs of rent or declining stock availability and reducing capacity in terms of HMOs that's not a good note, but we're not saying that these things are no problem but we do want an evidence base and that's essentially what our report would be about.

A few sort of specific points:

At the moment the HMO policy concerning mandatory licensing properties of three stories and above, I think that's a rather arbitrary rule of thumb measure relates with fire service regulations and that's to do with people who may have to evacuate from a building in the extent of a fire from the third story or above. So we cannot deny that there must be properties in Cambridge that are two story, or even single story, that would need to be notified under fire regulations when we're looking at house which otherwise have no additional licensing regarding HMO status.

In Oxford they actually went through stages in introducing additional licensing, first of all looking at bringing in two story properties into the equation and then putting properties in where there are three or more unrelated occupiers so there's no prescriptive big bang approach, there are different ways to do this depending on what the report we wish to see comes out with and what evidence that draws to our attention. We all know in our own wards, I'm sure everyone who's been a councillor has come across examples in this campaign of properties in a badly managed, they're unregulated, with unscrupulous landlords, exploiting tenants with unsafe accommodation and this has an impact not only on the people living in these properties but on the local area and on the local environment. Surely we would prefer and I'm sure good landlords would prefer a level playing field; a proactive regime from the council of inspection to a proper standard meeting fire and and electrical safety requirements. Encouraging responsible landlords means encouraging responsible tenants and they are very much part of the community. Ensuring the safety, security, and quality of life for both tenants and their neighbours.

So to reiterate we are just considering requesting a report be brought forward and assessing the options which arrive and in particular we're not describing policy we merely wish the council to populate a proper evidence base and bring forward a really considered report on this matter.

Thank you.


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