Lettings agency and council in student homes crackdown row

Worcester News: Students: more debate around the HMO crackdown in Worcester Students: more debate around the HMO crackdown in Worcester

ONE of Worcester's biggest lettings firms has attacked a crackdown on student homes - claiming the city council is "using a sledgehammer to crack a nut".

Student Places, part of Worcester's Premier Places group, says it will harm the city's economy and put landlords off investing.

The stance has been rubbished by the council's Labour leadership, which says the firm is "scaremongering".

As your Worcester News reported last month a new "10 per cent rule" is coming into force for houses of multiple occupation (HMOs).

Under the policy a property can only be converted into a HMO if no more than 10 per cent of all the homes within a 100 metre radius have the same status.

It will apply from July, and is mainly aimed to ensuring student properties are better spread across the city rather than concentrated in one area, like St John's.

Andy Lloyd, from Student Places, said: "It’s effectively a blanket ban on new HMOs without planning permission.

"It will seriously curb the number of student homes in any particular street. "But there are serious implications, not only for landlords, but for the wider economy.

"The knock on effect is landlords are backtracking due to the uncertainty.

"And without their investment, students will be put off coming to Worcester because a shortage of housing will drive up rents and reduce availability.

"Students have underpinned the economy in certain areas of Worcester over recent years.

"They are important, they bring disposable income into the local economy so the new planning rules will affect local businesses too.

"It’s a decision which could have a massive knock-on effect.”

He said the council should have applied it to only a few key roads in Worcester, rather than go for a blanket rule.

“It is a sledgehammer to crack a nut and that will not do Worcester any favours," he added.

The stance from the company differs from the University of Worcester, which says it is happy to work with the council in managing HMOs.

Councillor Roger Berry, city council cabinet member for health and well-being said: "This is scaremongering, the response we've had from elsewhere has been positive.

"The views of council taxpayers must be respected, and there are concerns on over-studentification in some areas.

"All we wish to do is spread HMOs more evenly around the city."

The main driver for the policy is to spread out both student homes and properties lived-in by several single people, to ease tensions with nearby families over parking spaces, noise and congestion.

In some areas of Worcester like the Bedwardine council ward in St John’s, 12 per cent of properties are already HMOs, meaning the policy effectively blocks any more.

HMOs are classed as homes where between three and six people live and occupy separate bedrooms.

Comments (16)

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9:43am Wed 12 Feb 14

**the** says...

Clearly Student Places / Premier Places are just looking after themselves, profit and future growth and don't live in a street or area like St Johns where it has turned from a community into a 7 month student let area of too many cars blocking and parking on the roads leaving no space for other residents, unsightly unkept gardens full of wheelie bins and houses that are not kept up to the same repair as their neighbours who have little choice but to live with it. The University may bring in revenue / spend in the economy but why should that be at the expense of the local councill tax paying residents who have chosen to make Worcester their home or lived here all of their lives. In my opinion the University are and have always acted responsibly and clearly engaging / supporting the local residents and Council, unlike the money hungry landlords. Their is a saving grace with the University building more accommodation this has resulted in student houses being unlet and put back on the market, which will hopefully be purchased by couples and families to enable communities to be reformed.
Clearly Student Places / Premier Places are just looking after themselves, profit and future growth and don't live in a street or area like St Johns where it has turned from a community into a 7 month student let area of too many cars blocking and parking on the roads leaving no space for other residents, unsightly unkept gardens full of wheelie bins and houses that are not kept up to the same repair as their neighbours who have little choice but to live with it. The University may bring in revenue / spend in the economy but why should that be at the expense of the local councill tax paying residents who have chosen to make Worcester their home or lived here all of their lives. In my opinion the University are and have always acted responsibly and clearly engaging / supporting the local residents and Council, unlike the money hungry landlords. Their is a saving grace with the University building more accommodation this has resulted in student houses being unlet and put back on the market, which will hopefully be purchased by couples and families to enable communities to be reformed. **the**
  • Score: 19

10:00am Wed 12 Feb 14

AllNonsense says...

The new policy is not designed to reduce the number of student homes in Worcester (and remember that this isn't just about students, but all HMO properties).

The original article clearly stated that the policy is designed to ensure that HMO properties are spread around the city, and not all contained in certain areas.

With this in mind, the change should not affect Student Places at all?

As a resident of St Johns, I fully support the Council and thanks them for taking the issue seriously. I recognise the need for HMO properties, and I'm not against students in any way - in fact I think they add vibrancy and life to the city. However, it's common sense that properties of this type should not be all in a particular area as inevitably the character of the place will change.

There has been a lot of irresponsible sales techniques from many of the estate agents in Worcester, highlighting houses in certain streets as "potential investment opportunities" .

Thank you Worcester City Council for taking your residents welfare seriously - I hope you won't be swayed by a letting agent's flawed arguments.
The new policy is not designed to reduce the number of student homes in Worcester (and remember that this isn't just about students, but all HMO properties). The original article clearly stated that the policy is designed to ensure that HMO properties are spread around the city, and not all contained in certain areas. With this in mind, the change should not affect Student Places at all? As a resident of St Johns, I fully support the Council and thanks them for taking the issue seriously. I recognise the need for HMO properties, and I'm not against students in any way - in fact I think they add vibrancy and life to the city. However, it's common sense that properties of this type should not be all in a particular area as inevitably the character of the place will change. There has been a lot of irresponsible sales techniques from many of the estate agents in Worcester, highlighting houses in certain streets as "potential investment opportunities" . Thank you Worcester City Council for taking your residents welfare seriously - I hope you won't be swayed by a letting agent's flawed arguments. AllNonsense
  • Score: 11

10:42am Wed 12 Feb 14

M. Walsh says...

If one is dispelling the arguments of letting agencies as nothing more than self interest then one should apply the same to the council. The Council's own statistics (though cannot be confidently relied on as they have changed so much in the last 18 months) show that HMOs are a tiny fraction of the housing stock even in St. Clement ward where the university is situated. In St Clement ward HMOs are less than 13% of all homes and in St. John's it is less than 8%. The Council is indeed using a sledgehammer to crack a nut and jumping on what they perceive as a vote winning bad wagon. Scapegoating is a popular toll of political parties. If councillors are so intent on addressing instances of poor standard and poorly managed HMOs and noise nuisance, why have they not used the enforcement powers and the noise nuisance powers they have had for years. This new planning policy will not tackle any existing poor standard HMO, but the council could do so if it actually used the powers it has.
If one is dispelling the arguments of letting agencies as nothing more than self interest then one should apply the same to the council. The Council's own statistics (though cannot be confidently relied on as they have changed so much in the last 18 months) show that HMOs are a tiny fraction of the housing stock even in St. Clement ward where the university is situated. In St Clement ward HMOs are less than 13% of all homes and in St. John's it is less than 8%. The Council is indeed using a sledgehammer to crack a nut and jumping on what they perceive as a vote winning bad wagon. Scapegoating is a popular toll of political parties. If councillors are so intent on addressing instances of poor standard and poorly managed HMOs and noise nuisance, why have they not used the enforcement powers and the noise nuisance powers they have had for years. This new planning policy will not tackle any existing poor standard HMO, but the council could do so if it actually used the powers it has. M. Walsh
  • Score: -9

11:29am Wed 12 Feb 14

AllNonsense says...

M. Walsh wrote:
If one is dispelling the arguments of letting agencies as nothing more than self interest then one should apply the same to the council. The Council's own statistics (though cannot be confidently relied on as they have changed so much in the last 18 months) show that HMOs are a tiny fraction of the housing stock even in St. Clement ward where the university is situated. In St Clement ward HMOs are less than 13% of all homes and in St. John's it is less than 8%. The Council is indeed using a sledgehammer to crack a nut and jumping on what they perceive as a vote winning bad wagon. Scapegoating is a popular toll of political parties. If councillors are so intent on addressing instances of poor standard and poorly managed HMOs and noise nuisance, why have they not used the enforcement powers and the noise nuisance powers they have had for years. This new planning policy will not tackle any existing poor standard HMO, but the council could do so if it actually used the powers it has.
"The Council's own statistics (though cannot be confidently relied on as they have changed so much in the last 18 months)"

Isn't that the point - the statistics have changed so much in 18 months because there has been a huge growth in HMO accommodation in the area.

The issue needs to be tackled now, and this is a totally sensible plan - not restricting the number of HMO properties but making sure that they are spread evenly around the city.
[quote][p][bold]M. Walsh[/bold] wrote: If one is dispelling the arguments of letting agencies as nothing more than self interest then one should apply the same to the council. The Council's own statistics (though cannot be confidently relied on as they have changed so much in the last 18 months) show that HMOs are a tiny fraction of the housing stock even in St. Clement ward where the university is situated. In St Clement ward HMOs are less than 13% of all homes and in St. John's it is less than 8%. The Council is indeed using a sledgehammer to crack a nut and jumping on what they perceive as a vote winning bad wagon. Scapegoating is a popular toll of political parties. If councillors are so intent on addressing instances of poor standard and poorly managed HMOs and noise nuisance, why have they not used the enforcement powers and the noise nuisance powers they have had for years. This new planning policy will not tackle any existing poor standard HMO, but the council could do so if it actually used the powers it has.[/p][/quote]"The Council's own statistics (though cannot be confidently relied on as they have changed so much in the last 18 months)" Isn't that the point - the statistics have changed so much in 18 months because there has been a huge growth in HMO accommodation in the area. The issue needs to be tackled now, and this is a totally sensible plan - not restricting the number of HMO properties but making sure that they are spread evenly around the city. AllNonsense
  • Score: 1

11:44am Wed 12 Feb 14

M. Walsh says...

No you are missing the point. Even the council is saying that the increase in their figures is probably due to poor records. Even if the latest council figures are to be believed, it still means that HMOs make up a tiny % of homes in the city. Its naïve to think that such a planning policy will 'spread HMOs evenly throughout the city', .It is much more likely to cause the effects and implications set out by the Lettings Agencies - and as importantly it will not tackle existing poor standard and poorly managed HMOs.
No you are missing the point. Even the council is saying that the increase in their figures is probably due to poor records. Even if the latest council figures are to be believed, it still means that HMOs make up a tiny % of homes in the city. Its naïve to think that such a planning policy will 'spread HMOs evenly throughout the city', .It is much more likely to cause the effects and implications set out by the Lettings Agencies - and as importantly it will not tackle existing poor standard and poorly managed HMOs. M. Walsh
  • Score: -3

12:20pm Wed 12 Feb 14

Katy30 says...

I was relieved when I heard of the plan to restrict the number of HMO's in an area. Living in St. John's I have seen a big rise in the number of student houses in the past five years. The student houses have made our street look messy as they do not take care of the front of the houses, empty cans are left on pavements, we have rows of taxis at all times of nights picking up students, we get woken up at all times by students returning home. I do understand that the students are good for the local economy but agree it is not good having them so concentrated that it affects young families and older residents who still live on the street. Surely these households are just as important to our community as the student houses?
I was relieved when I heard of the plan to restrict the number of HMO's in an area. Living in St. John's I have seen a big rise in the number of student houses in the past five years. The student houses have made our street look messy as they do not take care of the front of the houses, empty cans are left on pavements, we have rows of taxis at all times of nights picking up students, we get woken up at all times by students returning home. I do understand that the students are good for the local economy but agree it is not good having them so concentrated that it affects young families and older residents who still live on the street. Surely these households are just as important to our community as the student houses? Katy30
  • Score: 8

2:17pm Wed 12 Feb 14

CHANDBRUSH says...

Look around see the houses with.curtains.closed all day and night the front gardens like derelict sites.I feel sorry for people who live next to multilets.The Council is doing the right thing. Universities.should be made to build student accomodation on campus.
.
Look around see the houses with.curtains.closed all day and night the front gardens like derelict sites.I feel sorry for people who live next to multilets.The Council is doing the right thing. Universities.should be made to build student accomodation on campus. . CHANDBRUSH
  • Score: 6

2:23pm Wed 12 Feb 14

AllNonsense says...

M. Walsh wrote:
No you are missing the point. Even the council is saying that the increase in their figures is probably due to poor records. Even if the latest council figures are to be believed, it still means that HMOs make up a tiny % of homes in the city. Its naïve to think that such a planning policy will 'spread HMOs evenly throughout the city', .It is much more likely to cause the effects and implications set out by the Lettings Agencies - and as importantly it will not tackle existing poor standard and poorly managed HMOs.
With respect, I am not missing the point. HMOs clearly make up a tiny % of the homes in the city, however that % is increased in certain areas - that IS the point, and that is the problem that the Council are attempting to resolve.

If there is a continued demand for HMO accommodation, investors will have the opportunity to invest in other parts of the city.

I doubt you'll find anybody in St Johns who doesn't think this is a good idea. It's probably more of an issue to people who currently live by students but face the prospect of it in the future!
[quote][p][bold]M. Walsh[/bold] wrote: No you are missing the point. Even the council is saying that the increase in their figures is probably due to poor records. Even if the latest council figures are to be believed, it still means that HMOs make up a tiny % of homes in the city. Its naïve to think that such a planning policy will 'spread HMOs evenly throughout the city', .It is much more likely to cause the effects and implications set out by the Lettings Agencies - and as importantly it will not tackle existing poor standard and poorly managed HMOs.[/p][/quote]With respect, I am not missing the point. HMOs clearly make up a tiny % of the homes in the city, however that % is increased in certain areas - that IS the point, and that is the problem that the Council are attempting to resolve. If there is a continued demand for HMO accommodation, investors will have the opportunity to invest in other parts of the city. I doubt you'll find anybody in St Johns who doesn't think this is a good idea. It's probably more of an issue to people who currently live by students but face the prospect of it in the future! AllNonsense
  • Score: 3

3:18pm Wed 12 Feb 14

M. Walsh says...

I live in St. John's, live near students, and don't think it is a good idea. I have no idea of the % of all people in Worcester or in St, John's who agree or disagree with the policy, and with all due respect neither do you. The real issue is about rogue landlords and anti social people, both if whom the council should take action against and stop going along with this ridiculous scapegoating of students, as if they are all badly behaved and all ills should be placed at their door. Do you actually know what the profile is of anti social behaviour perpetrators in the city?
I live in St. John's, live near students, and don't think it is a good idea. I have no idea of the % of all people in Worcester or in St, John's who agree or disagree with the policy, and with all due respect neither do you. The real issue is about rogue landlords and anti social people, both if whom the council should take action against and stop going along with this ridiculous scapegoating of students, as if they are all badly behaved and all ills should be placed at their door. Do you actually know what the profile is of anti social behaviour perpetrators in the city? M. Walsh
  • Score: 5

4:39pm Wed 12 Feb 14

acitizen says...

I previously lived in a 'desirable' area of Worcester - Barbourne - where both my car and my house were on occasion vandalised by passing local drunks - not students. Traffic problems were a nightmare; mostly caused by people delivering their children to independent schools and nurseries in the area. I have lived in St John's for a number of years, near to students and the university, neither of which have caused me any problem. Please therefore stop suggesting that everyone in St John's is averse to students.
I previously lived in a 'desirable' area of Worcester - Barbourne - where both my car and my house were on occasion vandalised by passing local drunks - not students. Traffic problems were a nightmare; mostly caused by people delivering their children to independent schools and nurseries in the area. I have lived in St John's for a number of years, near to students and the university, neither of which have caused me any problem. Please therefore stop suggesting that everyone in St John's is averse to students. acitizen
  • Score: 3

5:51pm Thu 13 Feb 14

Keith B says...

As a Student Landlord with properties in a Northern town I hope the Council are going to repay the University all the economic benefits it gains for having a University in the City - because it clearly doesn't want the students.

The fact is that University towns/cities have to provide accommodation for their students - otherwise their is no University. If Worcester takes such a hostile attitude to those providing that accommodation, then it must take the economic hit that the loss of students and all the staff that support a University, entails.

Actually, as a greedy landlord I would applaud the Council doing the same in my town as it would mean that with a shortage of accommodation, I could put the rent up in my properties. But then a Labour Council never does have an economic brain cell to share between the lot of them does it!
As a Student Landlord with properties in a Northern town I hope the Council are going to repay the University all the economic benefits it gains for having a University in the City - because it clearly doesn't want the students. The fact is that University towns/cities have to provide accommodation for their students - otherwise their is no University. If Worcester takes such a hostile attitude to those providing that accommodation, then it must take the economic hit that the loss of students and all the staff that support a University, entails. Actually, as a greedy landlord I would applaud the Council doing the same in my town as it would mean that with a shortage of accommodation, I could put the rent up in my properties. But then a Labour Council never does have an economic brain cell to share between the lot of them does it! Keith B
  • Score: -4

5:53pm Thu 13 Feb 14

Keith B says...

Just one more point .... what if a student buys a house - are the Council going to try to stop that too?
Just one more point .... what if a student buys a house - are the Council going to try to stop that too? Keith B
  • Score: -4

10:45pm Thu 13 Feb 14

anarchist says...

Since Council Tax isn't paid on student HMOs, allowing these to become a significant proportion of the housing in the city imposes an increased burden on other local taxpayers (student HMOs use services but don't pay for them)

This alone makes it necessary to impose a limit on the proportion of student HMOs in the city since student HMOs use servcies but make no direct contribution to their cost. This is unfair on other locasl taxpayers.
Since Council Tax isn't paid on student HMOs, allowing these to become a significant proportion of the housing in the city imposes an increased burden on other local taxpayers (student HMOs use services but don't pay for them) This alone makes it necessary to impose a limit on the proportion of student HMOs in the city since student HMOs use servcies but make no direct contribution to their cost. This is unfair on other locasl taxpayers. anarchist
  • Score: 4

3:20pm Fri 14 Feb 14

CHANDBRUSH says...

Economic benefits from students u are joking
Economic benefits from students u are joking CHANDBRUSH
  • Score: 1

4:15pm Tue 18 Feb 14

liketoknow says...

forgive me for being naïve, but why would a student have any more disposable income than ordinary Joe Bloggs who works five days a week to pay his way in life?
forgive me for being naïve, but why would a student have any more disposable income than ordinary Joe Bloggs who works five days a week to pay his way in life? liketoknow
  • Score: 1

6:10pm Tue 18 Feb 14

WS1991 says...

liketoknow- because they get a massive loan and the vast majority are also financed by mummy and daddy. How else do you think they can afford to go out so much and spend it on booze? As a very new graduate I can tell you that the idea that students are 'broke' is an absolute myth for the majority of students and whereas they don't necessarily have move income than the ordinary Joe Bloggs, they have much more free time than them.

As for moving them all around the city this is a bad idea IMO which won't work. Look at the Bedwardine, people moan massively about the amount of students there yet there is only 12%. Not a big number. If the cap is only 10% you will just get new Bedwardine's cropping up all over the place (what's the difference between 2%- minimal). By doing this, you are forcing students to spread out all over the city you will encourage student enclaves cropping up over the entire city rather just just one area. Personally I think it would be better to have them all in one place (St Johns, rather than small enclaves city-wide), although I think this scheme of 'spreading them out over the city' will not work. Students want to live near to the uni/city centre. St Johns has the makings of a great place to live as a student and forcing students to live elsewhere, further away from the main campus/friends will only discourage students to come to Worcester Uni and will therefore be detrimental to the city.
liketoknow- because they get a massive loan and the vast majority are also financed by mummy and daddy. How else do you think they can afford to go out so much and spend it on booze? As a very new graduate I can tell you that the idea that students are 'broke' is an absolute myth for the majority of students and whereas they don't necessarily have move income than the ordinary Joe Bloggs, they have much more free time than them. As for moving them all around the city this is a bad idea IMO which won't work. Look at the Bedwardine, people moan massively about the amount of students there yet there is only 12%. Not a big number. If the cap is only 10% you will just get new Bedwardine's cropping up all over the place (what's the difference between 2%- minimal). By doing this, you are forcing students to spread out all over the city you will encourage student enclaves cropping up over the entire city rather just just one area. Personally I think it would be better to have them all in one place (St Johns, rather than small enclaves city-wide), although I think this scheme of 'spreading them out over the city' will not work. Students want to live near to the uni/city centre. St Johns has the makings of a great place to live as a student and forcing students to live elsewhere, further away from the main campus/friends will only discourage students to come to Worcester Uni and will therefore be detrimental to the city. WS1991
  • Score: 0

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