Page last updated at 12:19 GMT, Monday, 15 December 2008

Multiple occupancy limited to 10%

Sammy Wilson
HMOs are common in the area around Queen's University

Houses of multiple occupancy (HMOs) are now limited to 10% of overall accommodation in most parts of Belfast.

The policy, which has automatic effect, was contained in a plan launched by Environment Minister Sammy Wilson on Monday.

It permits HMO concentration to rise to 30% in areas where there are already high levels of such accommodation.

HMOs, common around Queen's University, are defined as dwellings occupied by three or more unrelated people.

Mr Wilson said HMO development would continue to be encouraged in places where it can make "a contribution to regeneration".

"The Belfast Subject Plan also promotes the development of purpose built student housing outside traditional residential areas," he said.

Mr Wilson said the issue of HMOs could "not be tackled by the Planning Service alone".

"Joint working with other agencies, residents and landlords will be imperative if all the issues are to be addressed," he added.

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