Holyland landlord threatens to sue Belfast City Council over licence renewal

The landlord of a house allegedly linked to anti-social behaviour in Belfast’s Holyland area has threatened to take legal action against the council if it fails to renew a house of multiple occupancy licence.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 22nd October 2021, 3:05 pm
PSNI officers on patrol in the Holyland area of Belfast, home to a large number of student tenants
PSNI officers on patrol in the Holyland area of Belfast, home to a large number of student tenants

At Belfast City Council’s licensing committee this week councillors deferred an application to renew a licence to operate a HMO at Curzon Street, just off Agincourt Avenue.

Councillors heard objections to the licence renewal from neighbours and saw videos taken by the residents of activity outside the HMO after midnight in August this year.

The landlord applicant, Dirnan Properties Ltd, said if the licence was not renewed the council would be taken to the county court, and asked to cover the costs.

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The Curzon Street HMO licence could be the first not to be renewed by the council based on anti-social activity.

One Curzon Street resident told the committee: “The tenants tend to be students, and there is regular anti-social behaviour from them.

“Parties, loud music, chatting and doors slamming, to the point where at least once a week my wife and I have to leave the house and stay with neighbours.”

He added: “Simply put, HMO properties are destroying our area, our quality of life, and our basic human right to feel safe and sleep at night.”

Another resident said: “We are regularly woken up, and have to move and sleep in our middle room.”

A council officer told councillors they had to consider the fitness of the applicant, and in that regard had to consider convictions or the lack of, in matters deemed relevant to the application.

The officer said the household had received warning notices from the council in 2017, and the council HMO unit as well as police were called out to the address in April this year, and again in August.

The officer said the landlord had a meeting with the tenants and “reinforced their responsibilities” by showing them a copy of the anti-social behaviour plan, and warned them the next step would be to contact their guarantors.

He said the landlord asked the tenants to apologise to their neighbours.

Both residents told the committee they received no apology. The tenants have since left the HMO.

The applicant, Dermott O’Donnell, from Dirnan Properties Ltd, told the committee: “We treat anti-social behaviour very seriously and investigate any alleged incidents brought to our attention as we did with the incident on August 8th.”

He added: “Making accusations against tenants without clear evidence could be deemed as harassment.

“If the council refuses the renewal we will appeal to the county court, and we intend to use submissions to fix the council with the costs of any such actions.”

A council officer said: “The test is about the management of anti-social behaviour on the premises, and whether or not the landlord is adequately managing that.”