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Houses of Multiple Occupation HMOs

What are the Council's rules on Houses of Multiple Occupation?

The Council applies the new rule by drawing a 50metre radius circle around the proposed new student house (HMO) and checking to see if 10% of the houses in the circle are already registered as HMOs. If it is already 10% or more, then the current applicant will not be granted permission to operate as an HMO.

See whether a building is licensed as an HMO

2017 Map of Houses of Multiple Occupation in Brighton & Hove
Brighton and Hove City Council updates the above every 6 months.

if you are aware of any HMOs which are operating that are not on the map at the above link, please let The Private Sector Housing Department of Brighton and Hove City Council know on psh@brighton-hove.gov.uk as well as The Round Hill Society.

HMO Forum & its information bulletins

HMO BULLETIN October 2017

HMO BULLETIN April 2017

The HMO forum is a group attended by representatives from each of the residents’ associations in the Lewes Road area, plus local councillors, representatives from the universities/students’ unions and guests.

Cllr Tracey Hill, lead councillor for private rented housing on Brighton and Hove City Council, suggests that the HMO Forum from now on meets twice a year, once in September and once in April, to coincide with university year start and finish. Topics include HMO enforcement and standards as well as community projects to help improve local neighbourhoods.

The need for the forum arose because in some parts of Brighton and Hove the high proportion of Houses of Multiple Occupation was a cause of conflict between students and longer-term residents: 

Where do rules on numbers of HMOs apply?

In April 2013, Brighton and Hove City Council was granted new powers (under what is known as an Article 4 direction) relevant to areas within the city where the growing density of student households is a source of  concern to other residents. The areas include

  1. St Peter's and North Laine (with Round Hill & Triangle to E)
  2. Hanover and Elm Grove
  3. Moulsecoomb and Bevendean
  4. Queens Park and
  5. Hollingdean and Stanmer.

The above links are to maps on the Council's website [PDF format] showing existing HMOs.

Permission needed for change of use to HMO

Within the above areas, planning permission is now required for a change of use to a small HMO. Under the Council's current planning policy, HMO licencing should be refused if there is already more than 10 per cent saturation in the surrounding areas.

A list of HMOs is posted on the Council's website, which includes all recent HMO licence applicants.

 

What if landlords ignore the rules on HMOs?

£20,000 and £14,000 fines imposed recently

Record fine for unlicensed landlord of Brighton shared house [The Argus 11 Dec 2015]

The new rules have now been tested in the courts, so landlords ignoring them them face enforcement notices with fines if they fail to comply:Although Brighton and Hove City Council has had to prioritise due to staff cutbacks, the Article 4 Direction with regard to HMOs forms part of their Enforcement Department's current priority.

Can the Council shut down an HMO which does not have a "Certificate of Lawfulness" for a permitted use?

In a word "No" in the above circumstance, but there are other rules which allow Councils to board up buildings in circumstances where they are unsafe or unfit for human habitation (see section below). In the above circumstance where permission has not been obtained for an HMO, an enforcement notice would be issued to the owner of that property prohibiting its present use. If no action was taken by the owner, as often happens, this would then be followed through the courts and fines imposed. This is now happening [see The Argus 11 Dec 2015] as illustrated by a recent £20,000 and £14,000 fines imposed on Brighton landlords for operating HMOs without the necessary Certificate of Lawfulness.

Boarding up buildings which are unsafe

The Council can remove individuals from a building and board up in the absence of the owner when

Dedicated student blocks versus HMOs?

Council policy favours dedicated student blocks over converting family homes. Given the age of some of Brighton's housing stock and the cold & damp conditions of some converted residential properties, it is also understandable that many students prefer dedicated blocks which have recently been constructed.

However, the erection of several large blocks of student accommodation, one after another in quick succession within the same locality, has an impact on that local community and neighbourhoods adjoining it.

There is a balance to be struck. The 351-bed Abacus development in the former Co-op building at the south end of London Terrace towards Baker Street, is well managed and appears to have contributed to revitalising the area, answering (at least in part) fears relating to noise breakout and high spirited behaviour.

Large additions to the population of an area within a short period of time inevitably require existing residents to adjust to changes in character and appearance as well as putting pressure on local infrastructure and services.

The Vogue Gyratory, Lewes Road

Our universities and their responsibilities

The universities of Brighton and Sussex contribute £3 billion per annum to Brighton and Hove's economy and create a large number of jobs in our city.

At the same time, they have more than 37,000 students. Establishments such as City College, institutions dedicated to English language learning  and British and Irish Modern Music Institute (BIMM)  add to these numbers. This demand creates a highly lucrative student rental market, drawing in landlords and developers. Many families feel priced out of their neighbourhoods as well as watching local buildings and streets being transformed to meet student requirements.

The universities have responded to these concerns through projects and initiatives to set up a dialogue between students and other local residents.

While local residents (including some students themselves) experience disturbance from noisy houses of multiple occupation and neighbourhoods can be made less attractive by a minority of households where refuse and recyclables are not put out correctly, poor letting agents and landlords who condemn tenants to damp, cold or unsafe living conditions are a problem for students and more established local residents alike.

Letting agents and landlords

Brighton and Hove has a good accreditation system for restaurants and hotels, as befits a leading UK tourist resort, but recognisable logos for identifying good letting agents and landlords are sadly lacking. This is unfair to good agencies and landlords whose reputations may in some people's minds be tarnished by the bad examples. A known logo - a sign of quality - could be displayed to identify the good, but it is also in the interests of everyone living in our city to 'name and shame' the bad. Fines for those operating without a license need to be sufficient to bite; otherwise they will be ignored. 

The universities themselves have devised their own ratings for letting agents (currently not very flattering), but while the demand of housing in our city so greatly exceeds the supply, this market makes it very difficult for tenants to 'vote with their feet' by refusing to put up with unreasonable living conditions.

 

Short-term Holiday Lets (Party Houses)

Final Scrutiny Panel Report on Short-term Holiday Lets [26-page PDF document] completed October 2014

The aim of the scrutiny panel was to establish a set of ‘gold standards’ for short-term holiday let properties aimed at the hen and stag market, so that they could be operated as successful businesses, while minimising disruption to neighbours and local residents.

Panel summary and panel members - Councillor Geoffrey Bowden(Chair), Councillor Jayne Bennett and Councillor Alan Robins.

 

Minutes of the meeting of the scrutiny panel on 20 February 2014 in which Inspector Gareth Davies, Safe in the City Policing Team, explained how the police would address any complaints that they received about nuisance caused by short term holiday lets.

This page was last updated by Ted on 25-Oct-2017
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