Town landlords face courts

Housing of multiple occupation
Housing of multiple occupation

A total of four Dungannon landlords are facing legal action over how they are managing houses of multiple occupancy.

The legal actions have been launched because of failure to comply with strict new housing regulations, according to details released last week by the Department of Social Development at the Northern Ireland Assembly.

HMOs are houses split into bedsits and commonly accommodate single benefit claimants, low income households, students and migrant workers.

They are widely acknowledged to be at greater risk than single family households and it is considered necessary to monitor them for fire safety, hygiene and structural maintenance.

Sinn Féin MLA Bronwyn McGahan has said that unless the housing crisis is addressed, there will be more multiple families living in the same home.

“There is a growing need for homes and unless we take affirmative action now we will develop a crisis like the one we faced in the fifties and sixties where multiple occupancy was common place.”

The private rented sector now accounts for roughly one in six dwellings in the Dungannon district. In all there are 44 properties identified as HMOs in Dungannon, down from 70 in 2013, when the town had one of the highest numbers of such properties in the North.