Portsmouth council hopes HMO rule changes will cut down on numbers of larger shared homes

COUNCILLORS and residents hope new rules for shared homes in Portsmouth will prevent developers creating 'extreme' builds that house more than six people in the future.

Friday, 19th July 2019, 7:30 pm
Updated Monday, 22nd July 2019, 10:12 am
Portsmouth City Council is looking at changing rules for larger HMOs

After 10 months of work a new policy on houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) in the city is ready to be trialled.

It stipulates that any HMO conversions that increase capacity to more than six people will be subject to scrutiny on the 'potential harm' it could cause to nearby residents - if 10 per cent of homes within a 50 metre radius are also shared.

Previously the council had lost out at the appeal stage when rejecting larger HMOs.

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The council's deputy leader and member of the planning committee, Councillor Steve Pitt, explained why the change was needed. He said: 'We have always said that the 10 per cent rule was brought in to protect mixed and balanced communities.

'But we have regularly lost appeals on it. In all but one situation we have lost appeals, therefore, we are making the change because it gives us a better case.

'Also it's not about the amount of HMOs in Portsmouth, it's about certain areas that have a really high concentration of them.'

St Thomas and Central Southsea wards have the highest levels of shared homes in the city. In 2017 Hudson Road in Southsea was found to have 70 per cent of houses as HMOs, and St Bailey's Road, also in Southsea had 68 per cent.

The East St Thomas Residents' Forum played an active part in amending the policy.

Martin Willoughby, from the forum, said: 'These shared homes are so attractive to developers and landlords because you can charge more than £4,000 a month in rent, whereas you'd be looking at £1,500 if it was a family home.

'But in our ward there are already too many HMOs. Developers can't buy any more so they're trying to extend the ones they already have, some with eight or more tenants.’

He added: 'The changes to these "super HMOs" are so extreme that there's no way they will ever go back to being family homes.'

Changes will be considered at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, July 24.