Houses in multiple occupation (HMO) continue to create problems for destination towns, impacting directly or indirectly as they do on tourism and the visitor economy and especial but not exclusively in coastal resort and university towns where they occur in larger numbers, very often in close proximity to the commercial hub. Long standing efforts to get a more robust licencing and enforcement regime have resulted in some improvement in both England and Wales but current mandatory licencing for larger properties over three floors in height and more recent selective licencing still don’t fully resolve the problems experienced, nor address key loopholes like historic conversions.
A speech by the Prime Minister on immigration on 21 May, could now offer a glimmer of hope of achieving a new much more robust approach: “We’ll also crack down on the unscrupulous landlords who cram houses full of illegal migrants, by introducing a new mandatory licensing regime. And, a bit like ending jobs when visas expire, we’ll consult on cancelling tenancies automatically at the same point. It’s not just through housing and jobs; we can track down illegal migrants through the banking system too”.
If the PM is true to his word then there will now be internal discussions going on in Government regarding HMO licencing and at some point there will then have to be a consultation in England and Wales on proposed new licencing provisions. Our objective now should be to ensure that Government brings forward proposals that “crack down on unscrupulous landlords” but do so regardless of whom they chose to use and abuse. However you look at it, sorting out poor, dangerous or exploitative housing provision surely isn’t a matter that relates to immigrants and immigration policy alone?
Now we are aware that there may be a DCLG(?) consultation and an opportunity to inform the though process before and during it we will keep you informed of developments. Meanwhile where HMOs are a tourism and visitor economy related issue, colleague might wish to highlight to perceived opportunity with relevant colleagues in housing and enforcement, on the off-chance that under an immigration banner it has slipped beneath their radar too.
More background information on the issues involved and on British Destinations’ efforts to address these can be found at: https://britishdestinations.net/599-2/content/houses-in-multiple-occupancy/
Full transcript of the PM’s speech on immigration is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/pm-speech-on-immigration .