TENANTS in Portsmouth could help rid the city of ‘exploitative’ landlords in the council’s latest pledge to crackdown on issues with shared houses.
At a cabinet meeting yesterday it was agreed that residents of houses in multiple occupancy (HMOs) could be involved in monitoring shared homes through the council's re-established local consultation panel on HMO licensing.
The panel, which will be chaired by housing boss Councillor Darren Sanders, would also push to bring back additional licensing laws on HMOs affecting those with a minimum of three occupiers, up from the mandatory five.
Councillors welcomed the re-implementation of the panel that will also tackle issues such as noise and waste complaints. Speaking at the meeting Cllr Rob Wood said: ‘On the board you’ve got people from the council and people from the city like landlords. Is there an opportunity to invite someone on the board who would represent the people who live in HMOs out there?
'They are your extra resource out there. They are the very people who do spend a lot of time reporting to us and having them at the centre would give you a balanced view.’
Officers confirmed there was scope to have HMO residents on the panel.
Council leader Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson praised previous work of the panel. ‘I think this has been a successful project,’ he said.
‘The council has a duty to protect tenants who are vulnerable to landlords who are not good. Having additional powers to drive out rubbish landlords I think is really important for us.
‘We have a huge responsibility to work to keep the additional licensing going. Landlords who try to exploit their tenants won’t get away with it. I hope this is something we will put a lot of work into.’
Current mandatory HMO licensing is required for homes that have five or more occupiers who represent two or more households. There are now almost 1,000 of these homes in Portsmouth.
The council’s additional licensing powers on shared houses, which included those with three or more occupiers, expired this year. In the five years of the additional licensing scheme licences were issued to 2,184 properties in the PO1, PO4 and PO5 areas of the city.
Cllr Steve Pitt noted that the licensing could affect properties throughout the city. He said: ‘We’ve seen time and time again some appalling HMOs in the north of the city. It’s quite clear from the complaints we get it’s not just confined to the south of the city.
‘Only last night I came across three properties with less than supportive landlords. None of them had green bins for recycling, and there was rubbish from previous tenants still left lying around.
‘We need to be monitoring what is going on.’
Central Southsea representative, Cllr Suzy Horton, agreed. She added: ‘It’s worth noting that a lot of landlords in the city get equally frustrated with other landlords who don’t treat their tenants right and bring their reputations down.’