We are delighted to report that there is finally some real progress in addressing the pressing issues around HMOs (shared houses) in Portsmouth.
Since last September, Portsmouth Lib Dems have been working hard on the City Council's Planning Committee regarding the ongoing deluge of 'Sui Generis' (Super-HMO) applications. These involved landlords adding more and more rooms to their existing letting properties, leading to an 'over-intensification' in parts of the city. We called for a review of the Council's existing policy.
The existing '10% Rule' was brought in by the Lib Dems in 2011 to try to stop ever more HMOs being approved and to stop more being granted in streets which already had too many. However, this was being circumvented by developers who used a loophole in the law to add extra rooms to existing rental properties.
This was outside the 'spirit' of the existing rules but there was no legal way of stopping them. This was very frustrating for us as we are all too aware of the pressure this causes on parking and local amenities.
This review has now taken place and a public consultation was launched on the 18th of September which will run until the 31st of October.
Portsmouth Lib Dems really hope to see the new policy implemented in full in the very near future.
This will mean:
- It will now be considered an automatic refusal of planning permission to add extra rooms and tenants to existing HMOs in areas which already have more than the 10% limit of HMOs.
- There will now be much clearer guidelines to assist the Planning Committee to press for any HMOs in areas below the 10% threshold, to meet higher standards of accommodation for future tenants.
- It will be easier for us to argue against over-intensification of individual properties, where it is proposed that small houses have lots of extra rooms added.
- We will be actively empowered to consult with residents to identify any unlisted HMOs, so that the rules can be applied more accurately.
We are very aware that people need to have access to a range of accommodation choices and support high-quality HMOs operated by responsible and caring landlords. However, some did not meet those standards and anything that empowers us to demand better for residents is hugely beneficial to our community.
For more information, and to complete the City Council's consultation on this important issue, you can click this link - Planning - houses in multiple occupation - which will take you to the relevant page on the Council's website. On that page, you will find a section at the bottom which is entitled Documents. The relevant one is called HMO SPD amends - September 2017. If, having read the document, you would like to complete the consultation, scroll back up on the page to the box entitled HMO SPD Consultation and click on 'link here'.