SHARED homes – or houses in multiple occupancy – are increasingly becoming an option for people across the UK who are unable to rent or buy their own properties.
For neighbours they can change the dynamic of a street as they usually mean more residents living in one house – often completely separate of each other – with some concerned young families are being ‘squeezed out’ of areas in Portsmouth as a result.
The News can reveal that 40 per cent of the city’s roads are home to a house in multiple occupancy (HMO) – 618 out of 1,512.
Figures obtained from Portsmouth City Council also show that there are a total of 4,306 known shared homes – but note unregistered HMOs will not be included in this data.
Although this only amounts to 4.7 per cent of total homes in the city, for residents in 17 streets more than 50 per cent of homes in their roads are now HMOs – and in five cases 100 per cent are.
City resident and chairman of the East St Thomas Neighbourhood Forum, Martin Willoughby, said: ‘The issue is a cumulative one – if just 10 per cent of properties in a road were HMOs then the odd issue or occasional late night disturbance is unlikely to be a problem.
‘But when HMO densities are 50, 60, 70 per cent and over, the impact starts to become a real issue.’
By definition an HMO is a house shared by at least three people who are not from one ‘household’ – such as a family – but share facilities like the bathroom and kitchen.
Currently in Portsmouth only HMOs with five or more residents require a licence from the council. However, council policy means that no more than 10 per cent of homes can be HMOs within an 50m radius. And other recently imposed rules mean that HMOs cannot ‘sandwich’ a family home.
The council’s deputy leader Councillor Steve Pitt said: ‘Planning law is unhelpful. The problem is once these HMOs are approved they’re here to stay. We can’t remove any but we can stop the problem spreading to other areas.’
But for resident Ricky Brown, 73, of Bradford Road in Somers Town, these rules weren’t enough. ‘First of all the rules need to be enforced properly and then secondly stricter rules need to be put in place,’ he said.
‘There’s a rule about how many HMOs in a 50m radius but none about how many can be in a single road.’
The average property price in Portsmouth is now seven times the average salary and renting flats in the city is known to be equally as unaffordable.
Housing campaigner and Labour councillor Cal Corkery said: ‘The growth in HMOs is a product of the housing crisis.
‘Where HMOs and shared homes used to be exclusively for students and people on low incomes, now it’s really common to have HMOs full of professionals who 10 or 20 years ago would’ve rented or owned their own place.
‘They have now been priced out. For many, HMOs are the only way to rent.’
Housing boss at the council, Cllr Darren Sanders, added: ‘Shared homes are an important part of the housing mix in Portsmouth, they’ve got to be.
‘As a council we need to use our powers to make sure streets with HMOs are kept clean and residents are respected and that any problems with residents or landlords are dealt with.’
However, with no retrospective policy changes available to the council many living in high density HMO streets are unlikely to see any change.
The council did not hold information on how many residents in the city live in HMOs.
A public consultation on the impact of shared homes on residents is open until September 9. Residents can visit the council website to find out more.
THE East St Thomas Residents Forum has expressed concerns with shared homes in the city for a number of years.
Chairman of the group, Martin Willoughby, said: ‘A number of our members experience major issues with HMOs. The main problems are noise and antisocial behaviour – particularly with people coming and going in the early hours, early-morning partying and loud music from student houses – issues with dumping of rubbish and waste management and parking.’
However, with large numbers of HMOs in the area developers have started converting shared homes to make them larger – known as ‘super HMOs.’
Mr Willoughby said: ‘Unfortunately because of the huge profits that developers can make from student HMOs in areas like St Thomas, we are now being blighted by super HMOs.
‘This is where existing HMOs are massively extended to convert them to seven, eight or even nine-bedroom HMOs; an approach that circumvents the 10 per cent limits set by the council.
‘These conversions, which frequently involve converting lofts, basements and repositioning floors to increase occupancy in minimum size rooms, means that this housing stock is unlikely ever to return to family accommodation.
‘In east St Thomas, we need the council to get the super HMO situation under control before it gets completely out of hand.
‘Young families have been almost completely squeezed out of the area as the stock of two to three-bedroom terraced housing has been purchased by developers.
‘Prices were driven so high by developers’ dash to HMOs, that they were unaffordable for purchase by families.
‘We have had members that have just had enough and left the area – it is extremely sad that the relentless development of HMO houses in east St Thomas, and the attendant issue and impact that go with them, has resulted in people resorting to moving home.’
The council is currently seeking to amend its policy to make it harder for developers to gain permission to extend existing HMOs.
Total properties in Portsmouth: 91,082
Total HMOs: 4,306 - 4.7 per cent
Roads in Portsmouth: 1,512
Roads with HMOS: 618
Roads with 100 per cent HMOS:
Beaufort Road - 1 out of 1 - 100 per cent - Southsea
Gloucester Place - 2 out of 2 - 100 per cent - Southsea
Peel Place - 2 out of 2 - 100 per cent - Southsea
Wiltshire Street - 2 out of 2 - 100 per cent - Southsea
Station Street - 4 out of 4 - 100 per cent - Landport
12 highest percentage streets - that are not 100 per cent:
Victory Road - 11 out of 15 - 73.3 per cent - Portsea
Hudson Road - 57 out of 78 - 73 per cent - Somers Town
Baileys Road - 34 out of 48 - 70.8 per cent - Somers Town
Playfair Road - 23 out of 35 - 65.7 per cent - Somers Town
Beatrice Road - 23 out of 40 - 57.4 per cent - Southsea
Margate Road - 62 out of 101 - 61.3 per cent - Somers Town
Belmont Place - 4 out of 7 - 57.1 per cent - Southsea
Landport Terrace - 21 out of 59 - 56.8 per cent - Southsea
Belmont Street - 15 out of 27 - 55.5 per cent - Southsea
Norman Road - 21 out of 38 - 55.2 per cent - Southsea
Eton Road – 12 out of 22 – 54.5 per cent – Southsea
Fraser Road – 16 out of 30 – 53.3 per cent – Somers Town
Havant Road - 2 out of 683 - 0.1 per cent - Drayton
Cross Street - 1 out of 274 - 0.3 per cent - Portsea
Eastern Road - 1 out of 263 - 0.3 per cent - Eastern Road
Highbury Grove - 1 out of 344 - 0.3 per cent - Cosham
Wingfield Street - 1 out of 290 - 0.3 per cent - Buckland
Knowsley Road - 1 out of 106 - 0.4 per cent - Cosham
Nothern Parade - 2 out of 417 - 0.4 per cent - North End
Chatsworth Avenue - 2 out of 369 - 0.5 per cent - Cosham
Dover Road - 1 out of 189 - 0.5 per cent - Copnor
Hawthorn Crescent - 3 out of 500 - 0.6 per cent - Cosham