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Southampton landlords attack new rules to curb student ghettos
LANDLORDS in Southampton have condemned new rules curbing the growth of student ghettos in Southampton.
Landlords will now need to get planning consent for all new houses shared by three to six unrelated residents.
A threshold of one in five homes applies to the rest of the city.
It follows a campaign by residents’ associations and others over related problems of noise, littering and other antisocial behaviour. There are thought to be around 7,000 HMOs across the city.
It comes as figures the council has not prosecuted any landlords in the past financial year despite 572 complaints of rented properties in disrepair.
Landlords say the new rules will reduce the supply of private rented homes and push up rents. Students have warned the measures could affect their future housing prospects.
Roger Bell, from the Southern Landlords Association, which has around 300 members in south Hampshire said students, the jobless, immigrants and single parents would be worst hit.
“The effect will be to reduce affordable accommodation in the private rented sector for those who are the most vulnerable and I think that’s unacceptable,” he said.
Lynn Fisk from the Southampton Property Investors Network said: “Landlords are angry and facing laborious bureaucracy because of the city’s standpoint.
“It will increase the already high overheads of running houses of multiple occupancy at a time when many landlords are struggling.”
Jon McDermott, a director at Hampshire based planning consultancy Fusion TP said: “It’s a real problem for landlords and we can expect to see many appeals.”
Planning permission will only be granted in exceptional circumstances if the new thresholds are exceeded, such as homeowners finding it hard to sell up where streets are predominantly made up of HMOs. Leading HMO campaigner Jerry Gillen said the new rules were “long overdue, very welcome and desperately needed”.
Southampton Labour MP Alan Whitehead called for a lower cap across the city and predicted a “glut” of conversions of family homes into HMOs in the city centre that would put even more pressure on local communities.
The council’s Lib Dem group leader Adrian Vinson warned landlords would also convert rooms into “flats” to get around the rules.
“I can foresee a rush of applications where landlords put a few doorbells on the outside and locks on doors on the inside,” he said.
Cllr Daniel Fitzhenry, Cabinet member for environment and transport, said: “This is about protecting family homes in the city and keeping our local neighbourhoods as vibrant, community led places to live.
“This will be backed up with further powers which will allow us to crack down on rogue landlords. Many people from the across the city have asked me to protect family homes and create more family homes in Southampton and this will certainly help with that.”
The new rules will be a hot topic at a Southampton Property Investors Network (PIN) meeting on April 3 at the Hilton, in Chilworth.