02/02/2004

UU lends support to student housing scheme

The University of Ulster has lent its support to a compulsory licensing scheme for privately rented student houses.

Proposals for the registration scheme for Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) were due in by 31 January.

The University’s Community Relations Manager said the University was concerned about the physical and management standards of many of the properties occupied by its students in South Belfast, particularly in the Holyland area, due to previous lack of regulation.

In its submission on the scheme, Anne Monaghan, UU’s Community Relations Manager said: “We have been working on our proposals for better accommodation in the private rented sector for some time and we fed these into the Voluntary Licensing Scheme consultation, the Housing Bill and now the mandatory licensing scheme, as we believe the HMO sector needs to be better regulated for the benefit of our students and also for the benefit of communities.

“We have always strongly advocated that a contact number be made available on the register as we believe the University and residents need to be able to get in touch with landlords. Some landlords are very pro-active and helpful, but many are absentee.”

The University said it welcomed proposals for inspection programmes as a form of enforcement and also the principle of grant aid to bring properties up to the required standard. It also advocated the development of partnerships to improve the quality of housing accommodation and the provision of information and training for tenants and landlords.

UU Students’ Union President Sara Vaughan said: “The University of Ulster Students’ Union welcomes the proposals for the registration scheme for Houses in Multiple Occupation. Many students currently live in HMO’s, which have not yet been registered and are still living in sub-standard accommodation.

"Regulation of the student housing market is a difficult task, but with a legislative requirement upon landlords to register their property, the outlook is positive. These developments will benefit not only students but the wider community also," she added.

(MB)

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