There are “significant incidents of damp and mould” in Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) in Ceredigion, a report has said, as councillors sign off on additional licensing requirements for HMOs in Aberystwyth in a bid to raise standards.

Councillors voted to continue an Additional Licensing Scheme for HMOs which targets Aberystwyth where the majority of Ceredigion’s HMOs are.

The report on the scheme, which “aims to improve the standard of rented property within the county”, said that “within Ceredigion there are significant incidents of damp and mould identified within HMOs which may be attributable to inefficient heating systems, lack of insulation and disrepair.”

Data shows that 170 incidents of damp and mould were identified in Ceredigion HMOs between 2019 and 2023, along with just under 100 incidents of ‘excess cold.’

The report shows that licensing inspections of HMOs in the past four years have also brought up issues of nuisance, noise, anti-social behaviour, and defective drainage.

The report adds that a consultation shows that there is “almost a 50:50 split in the public’s general opinion regarding the current good management of HMOs.”

“More than 50 per cent feel that more work is needed to raise the standard generally and continuation of the scheme will assist in this provision.”

The report said: “Since the introduction of the Council’s third Additional Licensing scheme in 2019, significant numbers of properties have been improved, many of which would have been outside the scope of Mandatory licensing and as such it is likely that, without the Council’s Additional licensing scheme, a much smaller number would have been improved.

“Evidence indicates problems with housing conditions and more generally for the community may be found in and caused by small as well as large HMOs.

“Without the designation of an Additional Licensing scheme in the county, the Council will not have such an effective, proactive mechanism to ensure that these smaller properties are regulated and brought up to a satisfactory standard and properly maintained at that standard.

“Despite the good work undertaken to improve properties through the current Additional Licensing scheme, it is evident that many properties still require improvement, and some tenants are not being adequately protected.

“Further work is required.”

The report says that the Covid 19 Pandemic had a “significant impact” on licensing HMOs, with inspections suspended for long periods.

“The suspension of inspections had a knock-on effect of delaying licenses being renewed and an interruption to routine licence programme creating a large backlog of properties requiring inspection,” the report said.

“This in turn has impacted the standards of repair experienced in HMO properties that have been inspected in the last 18 months as we recover from the pandemic.

“Whilst much progress has been made in recovery from the pandemic, the continuation of the Additional Licensing Scheme will assist the Authority in the continued improvement of housing standards in Houses on Multiple Occupation.

“The decline in complaints relating to anti-social behaviour, noise and waste management issues show the effectiveness of having the Additional Licensing Scheme in place.”