Brighton families start petition in protest over spread of student housing

Posted On 10 Aug 2016 at 10:12 pm

A group of Brighton residents are petitioning to stop more family homes being turned into shared houses in their ward.

They said that there were more than 800 HMOs (houses in multiple occupation) in the Moulsecoomb and Bevendean Ward alone – and most of these were let to university students.

Now a residents’ group, Family Homes Not HMOs, is campaigning to stop any further HMO licences being issued to homes in the area which includes Coombe Road.

Bevendean resident Bill Gandy set up the group and started the petition after many residents in the ward voiced their concerns at a recent Bevendean Local Action Team (LAT) meeting. The petition has already been signed by more than 400 people.

Mr Gandy said: “Families that have lived in this area all of their lives are being outpriced in the housing market by HMO developers.

“Eight hundred affordable family homes have been converted to HMOs in the area and another four HMO applications are in process as we speak. We believe this is the biggest single threat to our communities and to the family housing market in Brighton.”

Homes turned into shared houses - or HMOs - in Moulsecoomb and Bevendean

Homes turned into shared houses – or HMOs – in Moulsecoomb and Bevendean

He said that many residents were concerned about the impact that the sheer number of HMOs was having in the area. He said: “It’s having a detrimental effect on the local school which is now undersubscribed as well as service provisions.

“We even have our doctors’ surgery being sold and developed into a HMO to house university students.

“This current situation is no longer sustainable. Individual families, that have for generations been residents in our community, are telling me that they are at breaking point due to constant noise, swearing, rubbish bins overflowing, coming and goings of cars at all times of the day and night. At times it is more like an extension of the university campus.”

The Family Homes Not HMOs group wants the council to invest and build in the Bevendean and Moulsecoomb area to help meet the need for affordable family homes rather than increasing the number of HMOs.

Bill Gandy

Bill Gandy

Mr Gandy said: “The cry from the council is that we must find affordable homes for families to ease the housing pressures.

“Why not consider putting a stop to more HMOs being allowed in this area, retain the existing homes and invest in the communities that already exist.

“The council’s quick to recognise the desperate need for affordable family homes but is slow in realising that by allowing more HMOs this exacerbates the housing problem.”

The petition asks the council to prohibit the issue of any future HMO certificates in the ward and it will be presented at a full council meeting of Brighton and Hove City Council on Thursday 20 October.

To sign the petition click here.

  1. jane power Reply

    why don’t the petitioners make the petition Brighton-wide: I am sure that many Brighton residents in other areas such as Round Hill, Triangle, Hanover, share their concerns about the growth of HMOs in Brighton as the 2 universities expand.

  2. Yennah Van Hannover Reply

    Anyone living in the City of Brighton and Hove can sign any of the Council petitions.

  3. nicky Reply

    HMOs also cover professional sharers of all ages, the limit is 10% in many wards to include students and professionals, so where are all the young people going to live, do you honestly believe that 9 out of 10 households are families in this city. If 9 out of 10 HMOs are let to students what happens to our young professionals.

    Be careful what you wish for, 1.your kids under this policy will have nowhere to live in their own city unless they stay with mum and dad. 2. Family neighbours can be just as disruptive and have teenagers and be more permanent. 3. Our young graduates will take their skills and money elsewhere.

    You should be petitioning the council to clear rubbish and the streets and parks, and deal with any antisocial behaviour, this administration is neglecting these badly all over the city.

    • Bernie Reply

      Hi Nicky,
      I understand your point.
      But if only it was 10%…
      The 10% limit was imposed in about 2014 [ is called directive 4 ] Any number of HMO’ s running prior to that can stay.
      Coronation ST off Franklin Rd is 50% HMO’s. The roads off Lewes Rd like St Pauls are 35 t 45%
      The rubbish and crockery and detritus left on the pavement in Coronation St by the departing students has been there nearly a month, City Clean won’t take it and the agents have nothing. Gulls have spread the mess all over the street. This sight is repeated all over the Elm Grove, Lewes rd area.
      The house in question holds a ridiculous 8 students, who owned four cars. It is a poor deal for the students and must impact on them crowding so many into little houses often with no lounge for which they each pay about £110pw. For residents Parking and party time hell is soon to resume.

    • Chris Reply

      Hi Nicky. Your facts are just a little bit out here. The 10% threshold works as follows: When someone applies for planning permission to convert a house to a HMO it will be refused if more than 10% of houses are HMOs within a 50 yard radius of the proposed conversion. A landlord cannot get a HMO licence without planning permission. A HMO without planning permission or a HMO licence is illegal.
      When Mr Gandy talks about eight more applications I’m not sure if he means Planning Applications or HMO Licence applications. Judging by the number of HMOs in Bevendean it appears they will not get planning permission.

      • Alex Reply

        “A landlord cannot get a HMO licence without planning permission”. This is NOT true. There is no dialgoue between Housing and Planning – complete disconnect. Housing will issue HMO licences on the baisis of the inspection of the property. The owner (if it is a 5+ person-HOM, not small HMO) has to apply to Planning for permission – the licence is not contingent on this. There are about 400 proeprties with HMO licences that do not have Planning permission. The council knows about this but ignores it – students and young people have to live somewhere and if they were all evicetd there would be hundreds on the streets. Already there are some houses emty becuase they have been rfused permission but “families” do not want to live in them.

  4. Concerned resident Reply

    This leaflet was posted through my door the other evening. Whilst I have some sympathy with the cause, the choice of yellow stars for the diagram is unfortunate…isn’t that what Nazis made Jews wear to identify themselves…? I echo the comments above, be careful what you wish for!

  5. SamC Reply

    There is no place for demographic manipulation in a modern democracy. It should be left in the fascist 1930s states. This is a university city with a growing student population and a growing academic population to match. It is also a city with a growing digital economy, an employer of many younger professionals who rent share houses. Only 58% of the city is constituted by “families” or units that identify as such. Devising and implementing legislation that actively discriminates against groups of people who wish to cohabitate but do not identify as a family unit is despicable. If the same was done to discriminate on the basis of race, religion, gender, sexuality it would be considered a hate crime. This petition is no different.

  6. Alex Reply

    Some 3 bedroom houses are being rented for occupation by only 2 single people who consider it their primary place of residence. This is because 3 are not allowed to live there without HMO license. The rent is less with 2, but the yield is still pretty good in these wards. It is the students from richer families (international often) and young professionals who can afford such places/arrangements, but under-occupation of existing housing will not help anyone. Small HMOs (3 bedroom) should not be restricted anywhere.

  7. Sam C Reply

    This is a university city with a growing student population and a growing academic population to match. It is also a city with a growing digital economy, an employer of many younger professionals who rent share houses. Only 58% of the city is constituted by “families” or units that identify as such. Devising and implementing legislation that actively discriminates against groups of people who wish to cohabitate but do not identify as a family unit is despicable. If the same was done to discriminate on the basis of race, religion, gender, sexuality it would be considered a hate crime. This petition is no different.

  8. sally McGregor Reply

    Please understand that families need housing more. The mess left by student houses is increasing and being blown all over other houses and gardens and the noise from parties increasing. There is no responsibility taken by landlords to keep rubbish down and increasingly the leftvover or broken rubbish, clothing and furniture is emptied byblandlotdsvonto the streets. Afgordable precious housing for families is in short supply for families and this is leading to a loss of community in the areas.

  9. Disgruntled Reply

    Houses in the area have not suddenly become rental properties. The trend started a long time ago when families started rejecting the area because the local secondary school was less successful than others and owner occupiers took advantage of the ease of buy to let mortgages to move and rent out their former homes. Bevendean and Moulescoomb happen to be physically situated close to the unis but it’s true that sharers are not just students. Most people on normal salaries in Brighton (and many other places, especially in the south east) can’t afford to buy and either have to live at home or share with others. That is simply a fact. Generation rent will have to rent for a long time! Many of the things that drive people mad are under the control of the council – they could sort out the farce that is our rubbish and recycling so we aren’t having to wade through other people’s waste for days before it’s collected. The black recycling bins are a joke and should be collected weekly like general waste. Other parts of the country also collect food waste, and a wider range of recyclables. Why doesn’t B & H? Noisy neighbours can also be families, too! Sorry for the rant but it’s also worth going back to my first point – these properties, many of which have been rental houses for years, have been forced to become HMOs – at a cost – and the council has the power to enforce the requirements of the licence such as ensuring the gardens are kept tidy, the bins are managed correctly and the tenants behave in an acceptable manner, but based on my own experience of trying to address similar problems at properties near me, they do not.

  10. Anna Reply

    I am not a student, but due to expensive rent, this means anyone working without ‘a family’ or students are penalised and needs to live in HMO’s or shared housing, why demand this is taken away from people and make it harder for them? Everyone deserves the right to a more affordable home. Why not target the council over the issue of expensive and poor provision of housing, or rent capping, and buy to let houses? Spend the time addressing the need for affordable housing across the board, this would help solve the issue, rather then target people who have no choice, but to live in most likely below par rented accommodation in your area, that is extortionately expensive. Also, if all the HMOs’s leave the area and it becomes ‘nicer’, won’t it all get more expensive for everyone?

  11. albert wolf Reply

    The area is next to the Universities. This protest is simply prejudicing students.

    Imagine if someone set up a protest & petition against too many families in an area? Or too many people of a particular ethnic background? Etc etc. It is simply prejudice from middle class families who don’t like diversity.

    If the residents/tenants of these properties choose to be students then so be it.

  12. James Reply

    Stuff more people into HMOs. That way we protect the green belt.

  13. Valerie Paynter Reply

    The universities are overtrading and must be stopped! All they house themselves is first-year students and a few with families around the back area of Sussex.

    Their ruthless exploitation of the city is skewing housing AND the economy as students take all the unskilled jobs as well as houses converted to take them.

    Obvs non-student young people in work need flatshares too but even they are displaced by the cynical and despicable greed of the two universities overexpanding and overtrading at the expense of local amenity for everyone else. Dogs cocking a leg, the pair of them.

  14. Justin Reply

    I’m sorry but the answer isn’t to stop HMOs in one ward. I live in Hanover, should we accept more HMOs whilst Moulescombe calls a halt? If the balance between family homes and HMOs is wrong then they should request the council review the current regulations rather than focus on one area.

  15. Brian Moore Reply

    It is worth taking into account a) students bring a huge amount to the local economy b) last time I checked, not many families who *could* afford a house in Moulsecoomb, would want to buy one there or move in to the area c) 20 years ago, it was a no-go area. It is now vastly improved in my view. Old council tenants with old burnt out cars, 14 kids running around and dogs barking are slowly disappearing and that can only be a good thing d) yes some landlords could do more, as could some tenants and YES that includes council tenants e) the council should take more responsibility for the upkeep of the area, with better waste collection and working WITH students rather than against them, e.g provision of skips at student move out time, rather than stuff being dumped on the pavement.

    In my opinion, the area should be re-graded as a student village. Otherwise, the ‘issue’ of HMOs will simply spread further across the city.

    It is very narrow minded to simply blanket ban more shared housing when that is what the local community (yes that includes students and working professionals as well as families) is crying out for.

  16. Rolivan Reply

    No mention of the fact that if there arecjust students living in a house then no Council Tax is raised.

    • Chris Reply

      Absolutely. By 2020 there will be an estimated 50,000 students living in Brighton and Hove. Nearly one fifth of the entire city population. That is 50,000 people using council services and none of them paying any council tax. This is unsustainable especially at a time when the current government are slashing council funding. Landlords should be made to pay the council tax on these properties or at least pay Business Rates on them as they are in fact, business properties.

  17. Sharon tripp Reply

    Yes my daughter is still on temporary housing with a child she’s been waiting for 11 years now for a permanent place to live.
    As there is no house’s available, so the council help her with the rent, it must be costing a fair bit. She works partime and cannot afford the high rent that the landlord is asking.

  18. Investing in B&H Reply

    B&H is a growing University city. Portslade is the latest area attracting investors to develop and provide student housing – good transport links, good value decent stock and no neeed for HMO licences. If you have money to invest it is a very attactive proposition.

  19. Pat Berry Reply

    Coldean has this problem. We feel the council should now stop this and put the housing problem back to the university’s. We also have parking problems as Varley Halls have no parking for their students. Please someone do something for all the areas being affected.

  20. alan Reply

    Can we include COLDEAN in this petition please

    • Andrew Babbayan Reply

      This article is entirely skewed against students and sharers and completely lacks a balanced perspective.

      There has always been a requirement for HMOs, it is just regulated now, which is a good thing. If we look at the squares down by the sea, in what was bedsit land, there has been a trend away from HMOs. Now each of those beautiful houses are being turned into lovely family homes, flats and houses. Is this positive or negative? Hanover is the same, there are less HMOs across Hanover now than there were 10 years ago. Gentrification of the area and family demand is very high. Wonderful we all cry. The areas mentioned in the above article have increased in HMO numbers, but also it has coincided with a smartening of the overall area. Both were pretty rough and dangerous places 10 years ago. Do the students cause more rubbish than council tenants with a complete disregard for the property they live in? Maybe, maybe not.

      The bottom line is that all of those sharers have to live somewhere. We have protected hills to the north and sea to the south. The growth of the universities is great for Brighton and Hove, it brings business and a vibrancy to the place. All the language schools are great, it enriches our beloved cosmopolitan city. Graduates pay more tax on average in their lifetimes than non graduates. Our tourism business is dependent on students and young people. They cannot afford the rents of 1 and 2 bedroom flats. So they share.

      Article 4 should not be restricted to 5 wards, but should be city wide, that is clear – but the percentage must reflect the proportion of young people and students. If it is 40%, then clearly 10% does not work. Instead of worrying about percentages too much, market forces dictate the split, better to ensure there is plenty of regulation and the standard of accommodation across the city is improved.

      I am a family man with 2 young children. I am also a landlord and a business owner. My wife was a Brighton graduate, I went to Manchester.

  21. B Moore Reply

    Mr Babbayan you have frankly one of the worst reputations locally. You repeatedly ignore planning regulations, converting properties into large HMOs, building extensions and loft conversions without permission. You fail to adide by Article 4 repeatedly and your building firm D&L Properties should be closed down. I am aware of several landlords who have entrusted your firm and parted with huge sums of money, only to find afterwards the works you have done require planning they cannot get. Between yourself, Dan Lyons (Brighton Accommodation Agency) and Craig Smith (sent to prison for drug offences and a big student landlord, several HMOs recently shut down by the council), you are the very reason the local community despises HMOs and those behind them.

    One final note on your comment about people sharing as they cannot afford 1 or 2 bed flats. The rents you charge equate to figures not dissimilar to the price of those, at around £130pppw/£563pcm, so please do not parade yourself as some community hero when you are simply a law breaking, profiteering, immoral ‘businessman’.

    • Andy Babbayan Reply

      Dear Mr Moore

      Your message is pretty disgusting and slanderous, though that is the issue with these boards, people can say what they like. We have a great business built entirely around referrals – social proof. Please provide a single name of a dissatisfied client we have assisted in their property purchase?

      I don’t especially care if I personally have a poor reputation with some people. You cannot please everyone. I am an ex Army officer who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan who knows a lot about public service. Far more than most. What have you done Mr Moore?

      I am happy to meet with you or a group to discuss the issue of HMOs, illegal HMOs and article 4 planning. I think it is an important issue that needs to be tackled.

      Best wishes

      Andy Babbayan

  22. Julie mansbridge Reply

    Is Family Homes against HMO still active?

  23. Bah Nimbie mcnimby Reply

    Bah bah no homes for people who can’t afford a whole house in Brighton bah bah students should not be allowed bah bah only people with high paid jobs bah ha

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