Scores of HMO landlords in Portsmouth have threatened to sell up or convert their properties to family lets once a new additional scheme launches next month.
The scheme extends licensing to about 4,000 three- and four-bed houses from 1st September and has been hotly contested by Portsmouth and District Private Landlords Association (PDPLA).
At its latest meeting, many members said they would shut down their HMOs and regain possession due to tough new space requirements that would prove impossible to meet, as well as the added costs.
Vice chairman Alwin Oliver (main picture) says 95 landlords were in the room and a further 25 online, all listening to the council’s plans. “Sadly, the landlords present did not seem reassured,” he adds.
“When we asked the question if any were likely to exit the HMO economy, around 60 hands went up. It was a sobering sight.”
Oliver says one landlord spoke passionately about having helped some former homeless people into tenancies and who will now be required to give notice because of the new space requirements.
“The council are trying to clear the streets of HMOs by stealth,” he tells LandlordZONE.
The fall-out will be tough on those HMO tenants trying to find somewhere else to live in an already overheated market with increasingly fewer shared houses available.
However, if they wait for the bailiffs - believing they will avoid repossession in the knowledge that Section 21 means they are eligible for rehousing (because they are unlikely to be deemed intentionally homeless) - the costs of legal action and lost income for the landlord can be devastating.
“Multiply it by three or four in an HMO that has fallen into additional licensing and few landlords will survive the experience,” says Oliver.