Do you live in student housing? Important Information!
Southampton City Council are currently trying to impose an Article 4 Direction on the whole of Southampton.
What does this mean?
This means that Houses of Multiple Occupancy (HMO’s) will have to apply for planning permission in the future to change from being a family home to a house where two or more unrelated people share facilities.
Houses that are currently used as HMO’s will not have to apply for permission. This only affects the housing of the future.
Why do they want to do this?
The Department for Communities and Local Government report (ECOTEC) ‘Evidence Gathering – Housing in Multiple Occupation and Possible Planning Responses’ summarises the impact of HMOs as:
1) Noise and anti-social behaviour;
The SCC Environmental Health Department data says that 59% of Noise Abatement Orders were served on occupants of shared housing. Around half of all noise notices served over the last 3 years are on people living in HMOs.
2) Imbalanced and unsustainable communities;
“PPS3 Housing (2010) seeks to deliver sustainable, inclusive, mixed communities in all areas. It states that the “key characteristics of a mixed community are a variety of housing, particularly in terms of tenure and price and a mix of different households such as families with children, single person households and older people” (Paragraph 20 refers). On this basis an over concentration of any one particular type of housing or household would not contribute to a mixed community. HMOs are associated with a transient nature of the occupants with less than 5% of HMO residents have lived at their current address for more than 5 years. In Southampton the problems of HMO concentrations are felt most keenly by long-term residents as often reported to the Council’s Planning & Rights of Way Panel.”
3) Negative impacts on the physical environment;
“The Council’s Waste and Fleet Transport Division currently monitor the Polygon and Portswood areas for their refuse management, as they recognise that these parts of the City exhibit different characteristics to other parts of the City due to the associated concentrations of HMOs. Discussions with this team suggest that streets in these areas are more likely to have poor refuse management (including bins being left on the pavement after collection and a cross contamination of waste with recycling). Since April 2010 to date the team have recorded some 299 offences for the Polygon area (16 streets monitored in total) in relation to poor refuse management. For the Portswood area (18 streets monitored in total) 600 offences have been recorded (ie. nearly 2 per day) including 424 recorded occasions where bins have been left on the pavement after collection day.”
Overcrowding & bad living conditions:
This evidence can be linked to the CPC Survey work, which suggests that HMOs have a greater likelihood of being overcrowded when compared against all private sector dwellings. With no resident having responsibility for the entire house, and higher levels of transience, HMOs are more likely to result in occupiers and landlords having less concern in relation to the upkeep and appearance of the property than owner occupiers or longer-term single family tenants. This is also borne out by the CPC Survey showing 2,940 HMOs (42.1%) can be classified as “non-decent”, which compares to the overall stock proportion of 37.7%.
4) Pressures upon parking provision;
5) Growth in private rented sector at the expense of owner-occupation;
6) Increased crime;
According to the Council: Although students are targeted as victims of crime (as confirmed above), particularly acquisitive offences, the report also explains that they contribute to alcohol related anti-social related behaviour in highly populated student areas (as confirmed below). This is often caused through students being noisy and playing loud music in their residence, or by being noisy whilst returning home from licensed premises, house parties, and late night food eateries.
According to the Council, “streets with high student populations, including university campuses and halls of residence, reported higher numbers of offences by students. There is also a correlation between the areas where concentrations of HMOs are recorded (ie. Central and North Wards) and these reported incidents.”
7) Pressure upon local community facilities; and
8 ) Restructuring of retail, commercial services and recreational facilities to suit the lifestyles of the predominant population
How does this affect students?
Important to remember: The University are confident that this will not impact on the availability of housing for students. There is currently plenty of accommodation in desirable areas available and that is not expected to change in light of predicted student numbers.
1. The student reputation is challenged as HMO’s are often associated with students: low quality living with poor maintenance and high noise levels. Students should not be regarded as second class citizens, they should have the opportunity to have the housing that they demand.
2. The occupants of this housing are as much local residents as any other members of the community and their housing demand should be considered.
3. The problems that are associated with the housing are not necessarily resolved by having less of them. The problems like litter and noise will still exist and the council should perhaps be looking at more constructive ways of resolving the issues.
4. HMOs are in rising demand….and not just from students! With rising house prices and young professionals unable to buy, this housing is often used by young professionals who want to share living costs. HMOs support a modern lifestyle trend, providing for the diverse range of people for whom this accommodation is invaluable.
How can you respond?
It is really important that students have their voice in this consultation. It is important that you get to say what type of housing you need now and in the future. This is a national movement and students need to show that this type of housing is in high demand from them as students and young professionals. HMOs are problematic for many reasons, often relating to poor landlords who do not care for their properties and these problems are not resolved by restricting this type of housing.
If you want to have your say you can either email or write to the Council Planning Department. You need to include your name and address.
The closing date for responses is the 31st May 2011.
• Planning and Sustainability, Southampton City Council Civic Centre, Southampton, SO14 7LS