HMOs and Student houses

HMO Update 7th February 2017

Landlords and developers continue to make applications for new HMO ‘s, conversions and tensions.

Whilst Councillor Tracey Hill is confident that planning and enforcement controls are more robust, local residents will need to remain vigilant to any new applications. 

Interested residents can check the planning register for their streets by following this link.

http://ww3.brighton-hove.gov.uk/index.cfm?request=c1199915&action=showform

Type in the street and surrounding streets to see any applications.

If there are any,  residents can click “view details”. To leave your comment, click the comments’ tab.  

  

Update February 2015

Brighton HMO Action Group.

Caroline Lynch from the Coombe Road LAT spoke about improving cross-LAT approaches to priority issues, in particular university expansion and HMO management. An Action Group has been set up to strategically and tactically improves processes and resolutions regarding HMO issues and the impact of “studentification”.

Caroline asked that people of the HEGLAT contact the group and join the conversation:

Website: www.brightonHMOactiongroup.org.uk

Long Term Strategic Aims

  • The universities absolutely have to take responsibility for accommodating their students while they are studying here and desist from outsourcing the costs and problems of running their businesses on local residents
  • The universities need to deal with their current housing debt in the Brighton BEFORE considering expansion
  • The Brighton & Hove Council must back the City Plan – Part One to only support sustainable expansion of the universities, bringing in 12,000 students in the next 4 years is NOT sustainable given the current housing crisis in Brighton
  • Brighton & Hove Council and the universities must address the issues of where and how to accommodate students studying at the universities in Brighton with a long term strategic plan. It is not acceptable to keep fudging and hoping the problem will go away. Or that people will just continue to put up with the current situation.

Aims to Tackle Current Problems in Article 4 Wards

  • An HMO Enforcement Team – current services for anti-social behaviour, noise, rubbish are not adequate
  • A public register of HMO landlords/managing agents with full contact details, so people needing to track down a landlord can do so to report issues
  • A co-ordinated complaints procedure for tackling problem HMOs across various council services
  • No To Let boards in Article 4 wards whatsoever – extension for the current Regulation 7 Direction in the centre of town to all Article 4 wards
  • Active legal steps to fulfil the commitment in the Student Housing Strategy 2009-2014 to reduce the over-concentrations of HMOs
  • University head lease properties need to be included in Article 4 Direction thresholds
  • Universities should not be able to head lease a property in contravention of Article 4
  • A house cannot be sold as an HMO, must revert to C3 where concentrations are too high
  • A tax on HMOs – these are not houses any more, they are businesses
  • A full audit of all HMO applications to date and review of evidence of retrospection. Issues of fraud and misrepresentation to be tackled and prosecution for offenders, which the automatic loss of HMO licence
  • HMO licences to be renewed annually and the renewal to be dependent on the number of complaints and their resolution. Failure to tackle complaints means the loss of HMO licence.
  • Weekly recycling in Article 4 areas
  • Bi-weekly rubbish collections
  • Weekly litter pickers

Discussion was held between attendees of various experiences, facts and figures (e.g. about the failures of Article 4, campus issues for both Universities, people remaining in Brighton after University, the extra 5000 students Sussex have projected to be attending the university by 2018. Bill Randall offered to put lists of HMO applications and associated info. on the HEGLAT website. The current Housing Strategy consultation is also available on the Council website. David Gibson again promoted the Living Rent campaign, and Caroline has requested the FOI Act for data on all HMOs and is establishing an auto-send feature for complaints (so that complaints are automatically sent to several contacts at once).”

**October 6th – the hanover pub, back room, 7pm – main topic of meeting is HMOs – attending will be 3 people from the council Private Sector Housing team, Local Development and Planning team and Environment Protection respectively.**

HMO stands for Houses in Multiple Occupation i.e individuals sharing a house rather than a family or a couple. In 5 wards including Hanover & Elm Grove, HMOs must have a licence from the council if they consist of two or more storeys, with three or more occupiers from two or more households sharing facilities.

There is increasing concerns around the numbers of them, particularly at this time of year when new students arrive.

One recent experience of a local resident was shared by email with some people on the HEGLAT mailing list. Loud noise, 2 houses worth, windows open, music and drinking. After going to ask it to be turned down at about 11pm there was some reduction in volume and closed windows but then as they all went out this conversation was overheard

“why would you live in a student area. I have the right to make as much noise as I want. If they want to complain then fuck them.” … At which point his mate chipped in and said, “yeah, we had this problem before, people in student areas complaining about noise.”

This highlights the worrying trend that Hanover is seen very much as a ‘Student area’, no longer a local, residential neighbourhood of families and working professionals.

there were many responses to the email sharing concerns, here are a small sample:
“I have also personally heard students talking about how great it is living in Hanover because it’s a great students area and all their friends live very close to each other.
This is the perception that comes from the students themselves and so now the belief is that Hanover and Elm Grove are merely extensions of the campuses.”

“I’m unable to make the next meeting but I would like to go on record as wondering why after all this time the university have still not been able to instil into their students that they are living in a residential area of town, not student halls!”

“the students are just as bad up here, mind you so are both my neighbours who happen not to be students. They also think they have the right to make as much noise as they want at any time of day.”

“I am wondering if it is possible for people to write their experiences and hand them in at the meeting to be forwarded onto the council department and University. I could probably speak for an hour on my negative on going experiences at a meeting. A few weeks ago I was told to “get a life” and that I was “irrelevant” !”

From the Housing Officer, Private Sector, University of Sussex:
I would like to ask if you can get all member of HEGLAT to contact me immediately they experience problems with their neighbours.

I would like to help out with these matters and as new students move into the area, if they do create noise nuisances, then please can you ask people to call me the next day so that I can act on it. It is also vital that the council’s Environmental Health department are called at the same time so that we can act together to ask the students to live in a way that does not have a negative impact on their neighbours. I would also ask people to contact any letting agents or landlords, if they are aware of who they are too, and ask them to help out.

I will be at the LAT on 6th October.

In the meantime, please pass my contact details around to members and please ask them to contact me when issues like this arise and I will try to help you. – Mark Woolford: 01273 678219
E: m.a.woolford@sussex.ac.uk

from Councillor Bill Randall:
“I have lived in Hanover for 16 years and share your concerns. I have seen the area change and have more problems with refuse, litter and noise as more and more students (and others) move into the increasing number of Houses In Multiple Occupation (HMOS). Between 2001 and 2011 rented housing in the ward increased by 35 per cent to 45 per cent of the total and has probably got nearer to 50 per cent by now.
Like you I believe there should be a public register of landlord contact details. So does the public. In our consultation on the new city housing strategy, we had a 92 per cent yes response to the question: Should there be a public register of all landlords? The Greens are campaigning for this with a host of housing action groups nationally and locally. We also want longer tenancy agreements and rent rises linked to inflation, rather than the huge increases landlords charge at the moment. Also needed is a registration, training and accreditation scheme for letting agents. Many of whom are little more than parasites and do nothing for their money.
We have introduced a registration scheme for smaller HMOS and have had applications for 2,000.. Half have been granted licenses following improvements, much ofit around fire safety. Improvements are being carried out in the others before registration can be given.
We also have introduced a planning mechanism (Article 4), which is supposed to restrict the spread of HMOs. We should be able to refuse registration on HMOs without planning permission, but we are not allowed to. And when permission was refused for conversion to an HMO recently, the landlord appealed and the planning inspector found in his favour.
It is difficult. We are in constant dialogue with the Universities and the student unions. Most students are OK, and the problems are not always caused by students. I am going to copy the student’s comments to the Vice Chancellors of both universities and ask them if they are happy with this attitude and what they can do to change it . Best wishes Bill Randall”

Please share your thoughts and experiences either here or in person at 7pm, 6th October, back room of the Hanover. The house which was in the original letter must have had a few warnings and came round and apologised and brought round a chilli plant, and have been much quieter since – so community harmony is achievable -but this won’t happen without all the teams and residents working together.

9 thoughts on “HMOs and Student houses

  1. I have lived in Hanover for 35 yars and 22 years ago, after redundancy bought 2 slum houses to renovate and then let them to both familiies and students. They were 3/4 bedroom and small enough to avoid HMO legislation and the problems with what were then called HMOs. Surveys showed that the risk of death by fire in these small houses was the same for sharers and families, owned or rented.

    7 years ago, the noise caused by music students next door, not at university but a college in town, became intolerable for my good tenants, who had to do early morning starts at Gatwick. When they compained to the neighbours they were met by a comment, “what are you going to do about it”. They called the police and were told to call the Council. But the Council would only call weekdays and then only when they had all the necessary monitoing equipment, which meant 5am, by which time the party had finished. My tenants left and I let to 3 young working British, who soon left or re-let without my knowlege. Over 3 years the house was badly damaged and filled with junk which has taken a year to put right.

    During this time landlords have been reqiured to apply for an HMO licence, the cost of which for the fee and alterations can be around £20k. They have had to put in fire precautions and extend kitchens, put in extra sanitary provision and provide gas, electrical, management, and recent Legionaires Disease risk assessments, as well as deposit tribunal and more paperwork. The Council has created a whole extra department to deal with HMOs, which now apply to any house containing over 2 unrelated persons.

    And what is the result of all this legislation and regulation. Some students and OTHER sharers and also some families behave just as before. Do the police turn up – no. Does the Council ever turn up on time and prosecute using existing legislation- no. Do the refuse collectors make sure that houses have the correct bins and put the rubbish out the right day- no. Does Mr Randall do anying about it. Wel,l he calls letting agencies parasites and wants lanlords listed, so that they can sort out the problem. Only trouble is, they are not allowed to by law. Any threat to a tenant, such as ‘stop doind this or I will end your tenancy, is a criminal offence.

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  2. In the 27 years I have lived here the area has changed enormously. Despite much opposition at the time to the sheer scale of the development, the brewery opposite me became the Phoenix with upwards of 400 students and I also live right next to two HMOs (front and back), one ostensibly with three students but in practice with five or six. The area has lost its nice balance between older and younger; residents and students, and the small shops have gone, which makes it yet more difficult for older people to live in Hanover. I’d like to know if, in their plans, the Council still describes Hanover/Lewes Road as part of an ‘academic corridor’, which surely encourages the idea of it being a student area! We have these debates continually within the LAT but the impression is that nothing concrete is being done to address the problem. I would like to hear from the Council, at the LAT, what their present thinking is on ‘rescuing’ Hanover from its present predicament.

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  3. Maintaining peace and good order here in Islingword Place is an ongoing battle. I would like to think that we keep a lid on the problem by maintaing a list of all the individuals and agencies who can help us in the event of trouble, from the universities through the local authority to the police, to name but three. At the beginning of the academic year we distribute a laminated notice to all our student lets asking them to respect our peace and privacy as well as asking them to observe the requirements for managing waste. Generally this seems to work quite well. However, in the event of problems we are not averse to taking proceedings against students, agents and landlords in respect of statutory nuisance. New provisions allowing essier access to injunctions will add to the remedies available to us though, as ever, we would prefer not to resort to such measures.

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  4. I’ve been here 22 years and the area used to have a mix of small businesses, pubs, some garages and houses (and occasional gaps .in the terraces).

    Unfortunately the council has given permission for gaps to be filled, pubs to be converted, etc. Cramming as much housing into a small area as possible is part of the cause of this problem. Parking problems, caused by the council chipping away at free parking in Brighton, has also convinced many businesses and working families to leave the area and be replaced by HMOs

    If we didn’t try to wring every last penny out of the area we wouldn’t have this problem. Students just provide the most money (to various parties) per square foot. It’s not an excuse for antisocial behaviour but a contributing factor.

    When Labour take over next year nothing will change. It will just be the same lip-service to local democracy.

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  5. Touching wood as I type this,
    Islingword place, so far is quiet, the students next door are lovely and quiet, but 4 houses up the street have just had new students, so let’s hope they are nice and quiet.
    I have telephone numbers for most of the student house owners, so if they cause me grief I will be causing the owner grief! Try and do the same in your street, I think you can get this information from the council, perhaps Mr B Randall can answer this one!

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  6. OK well I think ALL of Whichelo Place would like to come. We were subjected to hell last year with a group of music students who used their house as a rehearsal studio – sometimes at 5am. Let alone the parties, the not putting their rubbish out, and vomiting out of the windows. My neighbour said that a house opposite was going to be converted into an HMO for 6 people. 6!!! Its not a student street. its a residential and QUIET street. Guess I will have to come on the 6th.

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