Property investors could lose their HMO (Houses in Multiple Occupation) licence if they rent to irresponsible tenants.
In a landmark ruling, the city’s licensing committee revoked two HMO licences after their student occupants “plagued and ruined” the life of a neighbour.
The move was a shot across the bow for many property investors in the city, who could have rents slashed if problem tenants cause them to lose their licence.
The “strong action” was brought about by former music executive Stephen MacDougall, who lives on Seafield Road, after his life was made a “living hell” by people living in two HMO flats above him.
Those tenants were the subject of at least 40 police call-outs in the last three years and were responsible for flooding Mr MacDougall’s flat three times, causing him thousands of pounds worth of damage.
The anti-social “plague” also damaged his performance at work and his health, forcing him to take medication to help him sleep through the noise created by his neighbours.
The shocking revelations came to light at a meeting of the city council’s licensing committee, where Mr MacDougall succeeded in having the HMOs for the two flats above him revoked.
His solicitor at the meeting, John Muir, said that the council had to act to get Mr MacDougall’s “life back”.
“We are here to address the issues that have plagued and ruined Mr MacDougall’s life over the last three years,” he said.
“For three years he has been in constant contact with the police, council and anti-social behaviour teams to try and reach a resolution.
“He has had to call the police 40 or 50 times with complaints. Why should they be taken away from their proper duties to maximise other people’s money (through HMO rents)? Would anyone want to live beneath these students?
“My client is a former music executive and he is used to the ‘rock and roll’ lifestyle — but he has come to the conclusion (in relation to HMOs) that money triumphs over all.”
Richard Hawkins, who represented 2 Rent Me Property, the agent for the two flats, said that as far as he knew there had been no problems.
He added that whenever there was any damage it was quickly repaired and that potential tenants went through an extensive vetting process.
His arguments held little water with the committee, who were unconvinced they should continue to grant the HMOs for the two flats.
Speaking after the meeting, Mr Muir said that the verdict would send out a strong message to other HMO operators.