‘There’s 15 residents on this road. The rest are students’: Portsmouth residents share their experiences of HMOs

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‘THERE are only 15 residents in this road. The rest are all students’ – people living in some areas with the highest amounts of HMOs shared their experiences.

For Montgomerie Road resident, 83-year-old Alan Richardson, living in a road full of students had its benefits. He said: ‘We get on with the students here very well. They help me out and I help them out too.

Richard Brown of Southsea outside an HMO in Bradford Road

Richard Brown of Southsea outside an HMO in Bradford Road

‘I tell them if ever my TV is too loud to knock on my wall and I would do the same if their party was too loud.

‘I understand why the students live in these homes though. Student halls are too expensive and they wouldn’t have the freedom they have living here.’

But he added: ‘There are only 15 residents in this road. The rest are all students. I have been here 50 years and it was all families and residents then. Slowly landlords have crept in.’

READ MORE: The 17 Portsmouth roads where more than half of homes are shared houses

Julia Hannan with her damaged car in St Andrew's Road, Southsea. Picture: Joshua Taylor

Julia Hannan with her damaged car in St Andrew's Road, Southsea. Picture: Joshua Taylor

Nearby Julia Hannan, 41, who lives in St Andrews Road had experienced some problems. ‘It’s mostly the students leaving rubbish and smashing bottles,’ she said.

‘The wing mirror of my van has been punched for no reason, I can’t definitely say that it was students, but it’s definitely from around here.

‘Noise levels, all sorts of things, girls peeing on the doorstep because they can’t get home in time. It’s just the mess and the rubbish, if I was to pinpoint one thing. The roads just look so scrappy all the time. I don’t mind anyone having fun as long as they are respecting where they live.’

Somers Road resident Paul Wood, 50, added: ‘Just down from me there’s an eight-bed student home.

Montgomerie Road in Southsea which has almost 50 per cent HMOs. Picture: Fiona Callingham

Montgomerie Road in Southsea which has almost 50 per cent HMOs. Picture: Fiona Callingham

‘Around this way it’s ridiculous how many shared homes there are. It doesn’t really bother me though because I work nights but during the day and evenings they do make a lot of racket. But I know it does bother some people.’

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SOMERS Town resident Richard Brown said his street has now lost its ‘sense of  community’ due to HMOs.

The 73-year-old retired site manager has lived in Portsmouth his whole life. 

Richard owns a house with his wife in Bradford Road, which sits within an area densely populated with shared homes. He said: ‘Quite simply these are no longer residential roads.

‘Most of the houses are for students so you lose that sense of community. They are not here for months in the summer. Then when they are here they’re noisy, they leave loads of rubbish outside their homes and the homes just aren’t looked after.

‘I think it first became a problem about 10 or 11 years ago. All that money has been spent on student halls but more students are choosing to live in shared homes because it’s cheaper – the landlords are undercutting the halls.

‘All that accommodation is sitting empty. You only have to drive around to see how the student halls are not used.

‘They are turning all these family homes into student accommodation and all this purpose-built student accommodation is going to waste.’

The council’s deputy leader Councillor Steve Pitt acknowledged some of the difficulties of living in a highly concentrated HMO area. ‘When it gets to a certain percentage it can create a whole range of issues such as noise and the potential for anti-social behaviour,’ he said.

But he added: ‘Many residents are happy to live in a student area. But for a lot of residents it means that for 12 weeks a year they are living in a ghost town when the students go home for the summer.

‘As councillors we encourage local residents to help students settle into their roads – for example explaining bin collections. Students can come from all over the country where recycling rules are completely different – so they come here and suddenly they’re trying to put the wrong things in the recycling bins. Residents can help with that, which also creates more of a community feel.’

Housing activist Cllr Cal Corkery commented: ‘Student halls are so expensive – they tend to be double what you’d pay for a room in a shared home.’

The University of Portsmouth does not hold information on how many students live in shared homes in the city.