Another student house must be converted back to family use

Posted On 06 Jun 2016 at 3:12 pm

A government planning inspector has agreed with the city council that a Brighton landlord must stop using a family home to accommodate students.
21 Upper Wellington Road
The council took enforcement action against owner Terence Hermon for continuing to house students at 21 Upper Wellington Road without planning consent.

In April 2013 the council assumed special powers meaning landlords need planning permission to convert homes to Houses in Multiple Occupation or HMOs in five council wards. These are Hanover and Elm Grove; Hollingdean and Stanmer; Moulsecoomb and Bevendean; Queens Park, and St Peter’s and North Laine.

The property was converted in 2013. It has six bedrooms, plus a shared lounge, kitchen, bathroom and toilet. An enforcement notice was issued to Mr Hermon last November.

The inspector concluded six individuals sharing a house would generate more noise and disturbance than would a family. The profile of occupants meant this is more likely to encroach on unsociable hours, said the inspector. He rejected claims that the property had not harmed the living conditions of adjacent occupiers – citing a complaint made by a neighbour. He said the HMO would cause an unacceptable additional adverse impact on the character and amenity of the area.

Council policy says permission will not be granted on a property if 10 per cent of homes within a 50 metre radius are already HMOs. The council says the figure around number 21 was almost 24 per cent; while the owner said it was almost 23 per cent. Either figure, the inspector said, breached a policy which was sound in order to create balanced communities.

Dismissing the appeal Mr Woolnough said use of the property as an HMO must cease three months after his decision, which would be August 20.

Chair of the planning committee Cllr Julie Cattell said: “We take this issue very seriously and will always seek action against landlords who set up HMOs without planning permission in areas where the limit has been exceeded. I’m very pleased that the government’s Planning Inspectorate has backed our policy, which was developed to help us protect neighbours and to maintain balanced communities.”

Deputy chair of housing and lead councillor for private rented homes Tracey Hill said: “The proliferation of HMOs in some parts of the city has been a great concern to residents. It’s good to know that government inspectors support our policies to maintain a mix of housing types, including family housing that the city so badly needs.”

An HMO is defined as any property where three or more unrelated people live in a house, sharing facilities. As well as needing planning permission in the five wards, HMOs often require a council licence to ensure decent standards of accommodation and management.

This is the third house which a planning inspector has said must be converted back to family use.

However, landlords are attempting to find ways around the ruling. The first, at 17 Bernard Road, was originally told to convert back to a family house from a large HMO in August 2014 after failing to get planning permission. The owners, Mr and Mrs Donald Rayward, appealed the enforcement notice which was dismissed by a government inspector in June 2015.

However, they then applied to turn the house into a small HMO by reducing the number of bedrooms by one. This was refused, and they have now appealed that decision.

Meanwhile, students continue to live at the house, paying rents of about £3,000 a month – almost two years after the landlords were first told to convert it back.

  1. Bazza Reply

    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. We’ve can’t keep loosing family homes that could and should be made available to family’s to rent Family’s that work within or around Brighton need somewhere to live & i’m not trying to be nasty but these family’s pay council tax witch helps run this city Nether the landlord or the students of HMO’s pay towards running this city.

  2. student landlord Reply

    Very misleading journalism. The article mixes up ‘student housing’ with HMOs. Not all HMOs are occupied by students and not all students live in HMOs. The council cannot prevent students from living wherever they want (or wherever they can afford!) The council can only prevent landlords converting family homes into HMOs.

    Bazza – you are right that students don’t pay council tax, but neither do lots of people on benefits living in similar areas. Foreign students, however, bring lots of money into the economy from overseas, and graduates tend to go on to pay more in tax later on than non graduates. I’m not sure why you believe family homes should take priority over student homes?? Homes should go to whoever needs them most and the council should not interfere.

    It is strange that this kind of student bashing is tolerated when such prejudice would not be accepted were it levelled against, say immigrants, the elderly, blacks, Jews, gays etc… Are students the last remaining state-sanctioned target for bigotry and prejudice? Discuss…

    • Mo Reply

      No. Look at the comments section on an article about travelers!

  3. Off campus landlord Reply

    Here in Canada we’ve had city Council try this as well, but has always been fought back on basic human rights. They (Council) can’t dictate who and how many unrelated people can live in a residence.

  4. Stephanie Reply

    I agree, families, that there should be more family homes. There always seems to be quite, a lot more noise, coming from homes, which accommodate students, and sometimes, some family’s have to move, because of the noise. Give family’s more of a chance, to get good and decent homes.

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