Building the case for housing scheme

AFTER reading Lee Allane’s letter which was published in your September 30 edition, I thought I would take the opportunity to correct a number of inaccuracies.

The purpose of the Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) scheme is not to generate income, moreover the scheme was introduced to help address the problems and issues we encounter on a daily basis with these properties. Yes the scheme will generate fee income, but this money will be used to cover the costs of the running the scheme, so in fact it is not profitable.

Before introducing the scheme we carried out a comprehensive consultation and publicity campaign. The response to this was extremely good, 86 per cent of those asked said they would like to see licensing for HMOs.

The evidence we gathered highlighted the issues we have with HMOs that are buildings converted into flats. There is often inadequate management, control and standards in these forms of HMOs.

The scheme does not create HMOs, rather it puts in place additional controls on existing HMOs.

It would be the entire building that would be the HMO, not the individual flats.

This means many of the buildings containing flats referred too have been HMOs since 2006.

We have not introduced this scheme to reduce the numbers of affordable accommodation in Hastings.

Quite the opposite; by introducing the scheme we hope to generate a supply of good quality, well-managed HMOs.

We have not excluded social housing by choice, under law social housing providers are exempt from the definition of HMOs.

We are preparing to introduce tighter planning controls on HMOs next year.

This is different from licensing and would mean that people thinking about starting up an HMO would need to apply for planning permission.

This will help control the density of HMOs in small areas of the town, which can create problems for neighbourhoods.

Finally further advice or guidance on the scheme is available via our website.

TREVOR WEBB

Lead member for housing at Hastings Borough Council