Fife Council seeks views on future of HMOs
Fife Council is seeking views on the future accommodation needs of university students and St Andrews’ residents in the town.
The issue of HMOs (houses in multiple occupation) has caused much debate in St Andrews over the years, particularly how best to ease pressure on the over-crowded housing market and meet demand from all sections of the community.
Now the local authority is asking for views on a change to its housing policy which would limit the number of new HMO licenses granted in the town.
Convenor of the council’s community and housing services committee, Cllr Judy Hamilton, said: “We’ve previously looked at different ways to reduce pressure on accommodation, particularly in the centre of St Andrews. This included a moratorium on new HMOs in the central conservation area of St Andrews through planning legislation but unfortunately this hasn’t solved the problem.
“There are around 1,000 HMOs in Fife and nearly 860 of these are located in St Andrews. Across Fife the number of HMOs has grown by 8% in the last 10 years and 27% of all St Andrews residents currently live in HMOs.
“We’re now surveying the community with a view to changing our housing policy. Residents are being asked their opinion on options within the range of 0% (no further growth) to a maximum of 3% (limited further growth). The council’s preferred option is for no further growth based on information available at this point.”
Representatives from the Students’ Association and Residents’ Association in St Andrews were invited to speak at the last community and housing services committee meeting to inform the debate on the issue. Councillors then agreed in principle to introduce a strategic overprovision policy for Fife and to survey St Andrews residents on the detail.
Questionnaires will be distributed to St Andrews’ households from the end of January and a separate survey will be issued to local organisations and students.
The issue will be debated again at committee on April 11.
Cllr Hamilton added: “This is a major issue for the town and we will continue to work with the University to find long-term solutions that will meet the future needs of both students and residents.”