Breakthrough on Bikes in HMOs

I didn’t expect a reply (to the letter which I append below) and more than a month later there has been none; but I did include my address as it was there that these two official personages clarified most emphatically the following points:

  • There is NO Strathclyde Fire & Rescue Service or Glasgow City Council regulation which stipulates that bikes cannot be kept in the flat hallways (or the close stairwells) of Houses in Multiple Occupation (student flats etc.)
  • The renewal of HMO licences does NOT depend on removal of bikes from these locations.
  • Both these bodies, and many landlords, prefer to ensure commonsense access (and to protect their paintwork) by requesting such removal but they have no authority to do so.
  • Access (including emergency access) is a matter of commonsense.

In other words, as long as HMO tenants don’t stupidly and dangerously block stairwells/ hallways with any kind of clutter, there is no legal reason why bikes need to be rusting in the rain outside so many flats. As the law is the same from Local Authority to Local Authority (at least in Scotland) it follows that this freedom is valid for all HMO flats in Scotland. Indeed it is most probably valid for all flats of any kind but I witness only to what I was told. It seems to me to make more sense, in terms of access, to keep bikes within flat hallways rather than chaining them to the close banisters and people who have mobility issues may agree with me. However, the freedom to keep bikes in both locations cannot be challenged.

Please spread the word. Please also, mindful as we are in Scotland of the present plight of our friends and family in other nations and regions of the UK, obtain similar clarification under Common Law (Scotland has Civil ‘Roman’ Law) and let’s get those bikes in before they rust or get nicked; or cyclists give up, start driving death machines, and become polluters.

Letter follows:

Legal Manager

HMO Licensing Section

Glasgow City Council

City Chambers

G2 1DU

cc. West HQ

Strathclyde Fire & Rescue Service

99 Bothwell Road

Hamilton ML3 OEA

8 April 2015

Dear Madam or Sir,

I was pleased to meet the lady who I understand to be the GCC HMO Officer yesterday, accompanied by a gentleman who is an Officer of the Strathclyde Fire & Rescue Service, while they were conducting a home visit to another flat in my tenament close. I apologise if I have not given their exact titles. They concurred in correcting my strong impression, one shared by not only all the cyclists in this close but all those I know in HMO flats in Glasgow and indeed one vociferously debated on cycling forums across Scotland, that GCC/ COSLA have threatened landlords with non-renewal of their HMO licenses unless they force their tenants to clear all cycles from flat hallways (I do not mean close stairwells).

These Officers were in agreement that the point is not about an imposition of new law but simply about maintaining common sense access, which is in everyone’s best interest. Misunderstanding has obviously arisen and in view of the material deterioration to personal property this widely disseminated misunderstanding has caused, with so many bikes now to be seen rusting in the rain, I would be grateful if this common sense view were immediately and widely clarified. With obesity rates rising among the young, and coronary health failing among the middle aged, I am sure that GCC/ COSLA would wish to publically support the good health and decrease in traffic volume and in air pollution which cycling affords.

I am also concerned about a similar misunderstanding regarding a ban on snibs on Yale locks. A ban which I am sure that company would be shocked to be informed of. This was diseminated, at least in Glasgow, at an earlier date than the ban on bikes and has resulted in tenants in flats and besdits propping open fire doors as their landlords (reportedly under pressure of the same threat from GCC) have physically removed the means of keeping said doors closed but not locked. This is clearly a fire hazard and in previous email corespondence with the Strathclyde Fire & Rescue Service I was assured that there is no such legal requirement. I feel sure that the GCC HMO Office would not wish to be understood to have overstepped its remit in this instance and in doing so to have put lives at risk! Please, therefore also clarify this most urgently, with the widest possible dissemination. Better to admit misunderstanding, none of us is perfect, than to be held responsible for damage to property, to health and for loss of life.

Yours sincerely,

…………………………………. …………………DR ALAN MCMANUS

Letter ends.


‘Green Bike’ by Piotr Siedlecki on Public Domain