CONCERNS about unlicensed houses of multiple occupancy in Dingwall prompted a major swoop in Dingwall last night.
Council officers, police, fire and Home Office immigration staff were part of the joint operation centering on several flats within Cruikshank Court, close to the town's Tesco superstore on Mart Road.
Highland Council’s environmental health team led the joint investigation and said today that evidence collected indicated that "a number of properties are unlicensed" - a matter which will pursued with the landlord.
It emerged that the landlord was also required to carry out emergency repairs at the request of the fire service.
An HMO is a property in which three or more unrelated adults are residing as their main residence and require sharing kitchen, toilet or personal washing facilities.
It is an offence for any landlord to permit a property to be occupied as an HMO without a license issued by the council.
Safeguards for tenants provided by HMO licensing include checks on electrical, gas and fire safety, space standards, and management standards.
Licensing helps ensure that accommodation is safe, well managed and of good quality.
Gregor MacCormick, Highland Council’s senior environmental health officer, said: “This was a significant operation led by the environmental health team with visits being undertaken to nine individual flats within the building.
"We have collected evidence that indicates a number of properties are unlicensed and we will be pursuing this with the landlord. Our service will be continuing to work closely with all partner agencies as we conclude our investigations.
"Our main aim in these investigations is to ensure the safety and wellbeing of tenants and we will continue to work in partnership to conduct such interventions in the future.”
Antony Gardner, group manager, Scottish Fire & Rescue Service, said: “The fire service identified a number of potential fire safety issues within the property which resulted in the landlord carrying out emergency repairs last night.
"All landlords must ensure that alarm and fire detection systems are maintained and operational to ensure the safety of their tenants at all times.”
Should any members of the public have concerns or wish further advice about the standards to be met within HMOs and rented accommodation then they should contact the Highland Council environmental health service on 01349 886606.