Labour candidates demand action on HMOs

Besi Besemar November 30, 2014

Labour council candidates in wards near the Lewes Road are urging the council to do more to enforce regulations concerning Houses of Multiple Occupancy (HMOs).

Tracey Hill
Tracey Hill

Nationally, all HMOs have to be registered and licensed. In addition, in some wards, conversion to a new HMO requires planning permission. But some landlords and agencies are managing to bypass the regulations.

In one street, Hollingbury Road, a 3-bedroom house was converted into an 8-bedroom house. Planning permission was refused but successfully appealed against, partly because the property had already been given an HMO licence.
Tracey Hill, Labour candidate for Hollingdean and Stanmer, said: “It makes no sense to give a property an HMO licence before it has been given planning permission to be an HMO. This case clearly shows that a council department is effectively undermining decisions made by an elected committee.”

Chris Taylor, Labour candidate in Hanover and Elm Grove, added: “Council officers will tell you that they do not have the funding or resources to effectively control behaviour in the wards most affected by problems which are exacerbated by the proliferation of HMOs. This is true. Government cuts have meant cutbacks across the city in all departments.
“Our proposal, if implemented, would effectively give more funding to the council in order to employ more staff in the areas concerned.”

Labour maintain a proposed cut-off date for applications for licenses for existing HMOs would galvanise landlords and letting agents into getting their properties licensed.
This would help both tenants and residents as more properties would be brought up to decent living standards, and from that point on, landlords would have to apply for Planning Permission before conversion to an HMO would be allowed. This in itself would stem the increase in HMOs within a saturated area.