Dudley is the latest council to be take up powers to limit the number of HMOs within its boundaries, claiming that they ‘linked with increased crime levels’.
At an internal meeting this week councillors heard from both local police and its own Anti-Social Behaviour team that HMOs in Dudley were linked to anti-social behaviour, noise, inadequate living conditions, litter, parking issues and increased drug use.
They were also told of concerns that high concentrations of HMOs in certain areas are harming their character, putting pressure on infrastructure and diminishing community relations.
This was accepted by the committee meeting, even though several councillors pointed out that HMOs are one of the few viable housing options in the area for those on low incomes.
Nevertheless, the council will now seek Article 4 powers following a six-week consultation period which, assuming it is successful, will mean anyone trying to turn a home into an HMO for up to six people would need to get planning permission from the council.
But the local paper reveals that the powers would not be taken up for at least 12 months to give ‘developers and landowners notice and avoid the risk of them claiming compensation from the council’.
Dudley Borough Council says the town, which is famous for its zoo and for being the birthplace of Lenny Henry, contains some 2,208 HMOs of which approximately 10% are licenced under mandatory rules because they contain five or more tenants.
Labour councillor Adam Aston (pictured), who has proposed the Article 4 direction policy, says: “HMOs aren’t bad, but poorly located and poorly managed HMOs are bad.
“We have seen communities across Dudley suffer from the effects of large numbers of people living within small or inappropriate properties.
“My proposal will see the council’s Development Control Committee once again have the power to scrutinise and potentially refuse requests to change the use of a property.”