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Councillors have renewed a House of Multiple Occupancy (HMO) licence despite a neighbour complaining about students throwing human faeces out of a window.

The city council’s licensing sub-committee agreed to grant Arden Property Management a renewed licence for a property in Thirlestane Road, but only for an extra six months, after neighbour Charles Stokes spoke out – claiming the company were “not a fit and proper organisation to hold a licence”.

Mr Stokes, who lives below the flat in question, claimed Arden were “falling short of their statutory obligations”.

The neighbour told councillors there were instances of tenants smoking, a failure to display licensing notices properly and students throwing “human waste, faeces, out of the window” – as well as noise complaints.

He added: “We feel ignored, we feel patronised and we feel our objections are not taken seriously.

Their selection and management of tenants is poor and this has led to incidents of anti-social behaviour as recently as October 2018.

“Arden staff do not treat neighbours with respect. If Arden chose good tenants it’s fine, if they don’t it is ghastly.”

Mr Stokes also hit out at the company’s “chaotic financial systems” after claiming neighbours were still waiting for payments for shared repairs from August last year.

The current tenants have lived at the property since June 2017 and police were called on 13 September 2017 and 19 March 2018 to reports of antisocial behaviour.

Cllr Scott Arthur quizzed the company as to why the students were allowed to remain in the property. He said: “I see this as quite a serious situation. Given that the police attended the property twice, you still decided to renew that tenure.”

Michael McDougall of TLT Solicitors, representing Arden, said the allegations of human excrement being thrown from a window were not reported to the company at the time.

He added: “There have been two or three complaints about noise. We found the incidents did not require tenancies to be terminated. Arden are working hard to deal with concerns expressed by objectors. Any complaints made are always taken seriously and investigated.”

Councillors were torn over whether to believe the neighbour or the company’s side of the story. Regulatory convener, Cllr Catherine Fullerton, called for the application to be granted for one year.

She said: “There’s only been one recorded incident to the police last year. People cannot make no noise at all but they should not be making noise that causes other residents problems. “Having heard what the agent has said, I’m confident the agent is taking this seriously and putting in place steps to mitigate this in the future.”

But Cllr Neil Ross urged the application to be turned down as there were “a number of doubts cast” over the suitability of the company to manage the property. Cllr Cameron Rose proposed that the application was approved for just six months, which the committee backed.

He said: “I do not accept everything Mr Stokes has said. We have a number of areas where there are direct contradictions on the emergency number and the repairs. We have heard that the applicant is willing to look at getting a new agent. I think there’s enough doubt here to grant this application but for a very restrictive period.”

Source: Edinburgh News

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