Arguments between HMO landlords and both local residents and councillors in Belfast’s largely student area of Holyland are turning into one of Northern Ireland’s most contentious issues
The problem kicked off in September when landlords leader Robert Greer told a BBC radio phone-in that those living in the largely student area should leave it they didn’t like students’ ‘antics’.
But after the students population returned later that month several large-scale and non-compliant street parties took place.
City of Belfast council now wants to require HMO owners to provide police and enforcement officers with a telephone number on which they can be contacted out-of-hours in case more anti-social behaviour takes place.
This has led to a war of words between landlords and the council over the measures.
“A council officer told The Belfast Telegraph: “We don’t anticipate ringing somebody every time we get a complaint. It is only where we have tried to engage with the occupiers, and we haven’t been successful.
“Nor do we expect landlords to jump into the middle of a crowd and sort out anti-social behaviour, that’s not what this is about. It’s about having that extra bit of support there.”
But local landlord Declan Boyle (pictured) says he and others provide a vital service for not only students but also a wide range of people including the homeless; single people on low incomes; victims of domestic violence; refugees and tourists.
“The vast majority of these complaints will not be from neighbouring properties, they will be from narcissistic, egoistic-driven individuals who wish to complain from somewhere 500 yards to five miles away, because there is some kind of alternative agenda,” added Boyd in his submission to a council committee hearing.
A decision on the ‘anti-social hotlines’ has been deferred until next month.
Main pic credit: @AmandaFBelfast via Twitter.