More than 100 shared houses in Brighton under investigation under licensing and planning laws

Posted On 21 Sep 2017 at 2:05 pm

More than 100 shared houses in Brighton are under investigation for possibly breaking licensing or planning laws.

Brighton and Hove City Council said that it was looking into “a surge of reports of unauthorised houses in multiple occupation” – also known as HMOs.

The council said: “In the 2016-17 financial year, the number of reports of unauthorised HMOs more than doubled on the previous year to 192.

“In the first three months of this year, there were 30 new cases reported.

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“Planning officers are steadily working through cases. There are currently 109 live investigations.

“The council has taken on an extra member of staff to meet demand.

“Special planning permission is needed in five council wards to change family homes into shared houses for six unrelated people or fewer.

“These are typically occupied by students or other young workers.

“The wards are Hanover and Elm Grove, Hollingdean and Stanmer, Queen’s Park, Moulsecoomb and Bevendean and St Peter’s and North Laine.

“The law does not apply to such houses set up before April 2013.

“In most cases a warning letter is enough to get an unauthorised HMO closed.

“However, this year 12 enforcement notices have been issued.

“Earlier this summer, a landlord was prosecuted and had to pay £4,500 in fines and costs.

“Trevor James Ford, of Horsmonden, Kent, had let 64 Upper Lewes Road via the Brighton Accommodation Agency.

“In the key five wards, planning permission would generally be refused if a new HMO would mean an over-concentration of such premises.

“The tipping point is where a new HMO would raise the proportion of shared houses within 50 metres above 10 per cent.

“The figures come in a new report to the council’s Tourism, Development and Culture committee today (Thursday 21 September).”

Councillor Alan Robins, who chairs the committee, said: “We’re very aware that the issue of shared houses is a concern in the city.

“Students and the universities bring big cultural and economic benefits. But there’s no doubt that many HMO occupants will have quite different lifestyles and priorities to their neighbours.

“We need to be careful that doesn’t start to change the character of an area for the worse.”

The council added: “For houses with more than six unrelated people sharing, planning permission is needed all over the city.

“All HMOs also need a licence from the council’s environmental health or private sector housing departments.”

  1. Fishwife, 49 Reply

    “Planning officers are steadily working through cases. There are currently 109 live investigations. The council has taken on an extra member of staff to meet demand.”
    Just ran that through Google Translate: apparently it means “We’re completely snowed under – please try and bear with us…”

  2. Lokipoki Reply

    The idea that hmo tenants have different lifestyles is a gross generalisation. The only difference between myself and my neighbours is that I cannot buy a house. Please remember that when you are talked about shared rental houses, you are not just talking about students, but about many of the cities vital workers. We treat you when are sick, we teach your children, we serve you in shops and restaurants and deliver food to your house.

    • Fishwife, 49 Reply

      “We cook your meals, we haul your trash, we connect your calls, we drive your ambulances, we guard you while you sleep…”
      No no, don’t tell me: it’s a line from a film, isn’t it?

  3. HM who? Reply

    Lokipoki has a very valid point. I was recently living in one of these unlicensed HMOs. We were a group of engineers, doctors and social workers. Student rentals were either a low standard, or in some cases the letting agents said “these are for students only”. We couldn’t afford to buy our own houses. The only way to get a nice affordable property was to lie. Times have changed, people don’t get married, buy a house and have children as soon as they leave education. The universities attempt to bring as many people in to the city as possible, but only provide accommodation in the first year.

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