Letter to Editor: More action required on Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs)

News / Mon 2nd Apr 2018 pm30 12:49pm


Dear Editor,

I have long been concerned about the damaging effects uncontrolled growth of HMOs has had on many residents and neighbourhoods in Harlow.

An HMO is a rental property which is occupied by three or more people who form separate households and share facilities such as kitchen and bathroom.

In Harlow all HMOs have to be licensed by the local authority. Neighbours are not consulted as part of that licensing process.

The adverse effects HMOs bring to our communities are parking problems, additional vehicles, excess rubbish, noise nuisance and anti-social behaviour. The tenants are mainly people staying for a short term only and so have little commitment to the community and show little care for it.

Neighbours are driven to move away rather than put up with these problems. The purchasers of the homes they vacate often turn them into more HMOs. This pattern has created runs of HMOs in several parts of Harlow.

The only way to control the development of HMOs is by enforcing planning law. We need Harlow Council to establish the relevant Article 4 Direction for the whole of Harlow. Anyone then wishing to convert a property into an HMO would need first to obtain planning consent.

Many local authorities have done this without difficulty (Leeds, Manchester, Nottingham, Barking, Bath, Bournemouth, Brighton, Canterbury, Hastings, Hatfield, Leamington, Loughborough, Milton Keynes, Portsmouth, Southampton, Stevenage and York to name but a few.)

Stevenage has much in common with Harlow and its A4D came into force last September.

Harlow’s is long overdue.

Kind regards,

Sheila Sullivan

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4 Comments for Letter to Editor: More action required on Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs):

2018-04-02 14:46:32

I can understand the concern about HMOs but a balance I think has to be struck between the need for housing and local residents. The problem of not having enough social housing goes back decades and solving it will take time but until then HMOs are often vital to keep people housed. Yes there are a few bad apples but let's not pretend that all "regular" tenants are sweetness and light by comparison. Parking, excess rubbish and antisocial behaviour are not the exclusive domain of people in HMOs and to damn an entire group for the actions of a few can be a very worrying precedent. By all means ensure the properties are safe and fit to live in. But let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

2018-04-02 18:14:06

Sheila, A house was for let near where we are and first of all it was a couple who disappered after a few months having moved in another male,at the moment on the the latest estimate there are 4 males in the house and would guess an amount of hot bedding happening as at least one works nights,the rubbish has been overflowing before now and results in a label being attached although this has improved lately but quite rightly as you say we have the associated parking problems. Having checked the register the house is not listed as a hmo so i would think the owner is unaware.

2018-04-05 15:32:15

Sheila, first I'd like to answer to JerryFromQueens with a question: do you live next door to an HMO? Because I can assure you that, if you did, your sentiments would be completely against HMOs. I agree that when they were first created as an alternative form of housing, HMOs may have represented the perfect answer to homelessness. However, the legislation surrounding HMO licensing was not without flaw. The only restrictions the government has put in place on the licensing of HMOs is for local authorities to ensure landlords have fire prevention, waste collection and, in a few cases, anti-social measures in place. As far as anything else, local authorities have got full discretion. I believe, like with all good things, Harlow Council saw HMOs like an answer to their prayers, and they still do, especially with the implementation of the Homelessness Prevenction Act this week. But I can't help agreeing with you, Sheila. Harlow is now over-saturated with an overwhelming inflation of HMOs everywhere. Local community town-wise have been poorly affected by these properties, which do nothing to help community cohesion, but in fact have solely detrimental effects. Having an HMO right next door to me, I can mention only but a few of the many disturbances we have had to endure in the course of the last two years: noise, fights with the intervention of police and ambulance on too few many occasions for my liking, regular smoke of weed to the point of us not being able to open our windows nor letting our children play in the garden, not to mention regular problems with excess waste and parking. The Council reacts promptly with the manager, but the same problems reoccur regularly whenever there is a change of tenants every few months of not weeks. I feel, like you, Sheila, that Harlow is long overdue an Article4Direction applicable to the whole town. I sincerely hope that this Council starts listening to its residents in the same way as other towns did, and introduces A4D soonest. Asking residents to move if they don't like it is NOT the answer!

2018-09-20 19:48:43

I live in Harlow and have not long found out next door has been bought and turned into a 5 bedroom house using the 3 bedrooms upstairs the lounge and dining room. We knew nothing until a neighbor saw the the lady we thought may have been the land lord to find out shes from the Management company. No one would have told us if we hadn't have asked our self. They had applied for no licence and had been renovating the house since May (from there FB Page) In my eyes they were trying to be avoid applying for the licence. They have been lying to us since people moved in over the last few weeks about various things. The people who are in there are lovely and i have no problem with them at all. I think the management company have no concern for the neighboring houses at all.

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