Landlords queing up for more HMOs

January 12 2021
Landlords queing up for more HMOs

Investors are lining up to buy homes in Filton which have potential to become Houses of Multiple Occupancy (HMO) - in some cases paying cash up to £15,000 above the asking price.

by Shane Gibson and Rich Coulter
 
Map link here shows large HMOs in Filton
https://www.google.com/maps/d/embed?mid=1fWXL0Q1rKXcF--zGoTnCr_eJg6qzjiKv&hl=en
 
One Filton estate agent who spoke to Filton Voice said that in some locations, they can expect upwards of 10 investors ready to buy immediately even before the house goes on the market.
An HMO is typically a family home which has been converted into five or more separate bedrooms, often for students or single professionals.
One HMO in Filton has 11 bedrooms and many have six or more, having undergone conversion work.
Local people say that while they understand the need for a housing mix, the concentration of HMOs, especially in Northville and Conygre, in some cases has a detrimental effect on the area. They say landlords do not ensure tenants keep the properties tidy and multiple bedrooms often means extra cars which affects parking. Students and those living in HMOs say they are a part of the community and high house prices mean they have little option other than to rent in an HMO.
South Glos Council is now undertaking a review of HMOs and looking into whether they need to tighten up regulations "where(HMOs are) concentrated within a small geographical area".
A current application for an eight-bedroom HMO in Northville Road, which has yet to be decided by councillors, has attracted more than 50 objections from residents, including Filton Town Council and former South Glos councillor Roger Hutchinson. 
Many of the objectors cited parking issues and one resident accused South Glos Council of 'destroying' the community by allowing so many HMOs.
In Filton, there are 171 HMOs, the vast majority five and six-bedroom but some have up to 10 and 11 bedrooms. This means Filton has 42% of the total of 409 large HMOs in South Glos.
Filton, with UWE on the doorstep and SGS College, has a higher than average student population as well as professionals working in our high tech industries and the MoD.
Planning rules mean that councillors have very little scope to stop HMOs. Rejecting an application simply because there is public concern would likely end up in a costly legal appeal by the landlord which the council would likely lose.
Cllr Chris Wood has told Filton Town Council that one avenue which IS open to the council - objecting on the basis of available car parking spaces - is often not used by South Glos.
Filtonvoice spoke with one local estate agent.
He said: “Filton is still extremely popular. Just recently we sold a property on Charborough Road for £15,000 more than the asking price.”
He said that he was unaware that there were any public objections to the HMOs on Northville Road. 
“Northville Road is very sought after. If we were to advertise any property on Northville Road as available to purchase, we would immediately have at least 10 investors ready to buy.” he said.
He went on to explain that there were two types of sellers.
“Some are happy to allow an investor to come in and pick up the property at the asking price.  
"However others, who have normally built-up relationships with their neighbours, sometimes over 20 years, prefer to only allow their properties go to families,” he said.
South Gloucestershire Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Environment and Strategic Infrastructure, Cllr Steve Reade said: “We were very pleased to receive representations from Cllr Chris Wood on this important local issue and Cabinet were therefore supportive of allocating additional resources to progress a fresh new planning approach to dealing with HMOs.”
A spokesperson for South Gloucestershire Council said: “HMOs (Homes in Multiple Occupation) provide a vital housing option for lots of people in South Gloucestershire and as an authority with a university within our area, we also have a number of students with HMOs providing an essential accommodation choice for them, as well as young professionals and people on lower incomes who can’t afford to rent more than a room in a shared house. 
“We regularly review the situation and appreciate that where this use is concentrated within a small geographical area, some challenges can arise such as pressure on local parking availability and waste management issues. 
"As a result of this, we are again considering whether there is a case to introduce one or more Article 4 Directions to give us some additional control over the number of HMOs in certain areas using the planning process and a HMO Supplementary Planning Document to support that. 
“We encourage people to report any problems relating to the condition of HMOs to us at  psechousing@southglos.gov.uk or by calling 01454 868001. 
"Issues relating to waste storage and presentation should be reported to streetcare@southglos.gov.uk or by calling 01454 868000.”
 

Opinions

by Shane Gibson
Northville Road currently has four licensed HMOs with two more currently awaiting planning approval. Whilst at the time of writing planning has yet to be approved, construction started on 64 Northville Road in early November. 58 Northville Road has also had a planning applications submitted, to be converted into an HMO.  Residents as well as Filton Town Council, have raised objections to the applications with South Gloucestershire Council with more than 50 objections for number 64 and a further 20 for number 58.
Filtonvoice met with some of the residents. 
Darren and Urszula Stainer, 44 and 42 respectively, have a three-year-old son. They are worried what the future will be like on Northville Road and the surrounding area if the trend of converting family homes into HMOs continues.
“We chose to live in a nice area with nice family homes and children that our son can grow up with.  We do not want the anti-social activities that can come with HMOs filled with students,” said Urszula
Road safety is paramount for Darren.
“Often this road is practically gridlocked.  There are no zebra crossings, and we are going to have to walk with a small child across stretches of road with cars hurrying to squeeze through gaps.  I don’t want to think about this road with even more cars on it," he said.
Like many streets across Filton, Northville Road has its own distinct look, with large houses at either end, but a long stretch in the middle made up of bungalows.
“One of the things I brought up in our objection to the council was the aesthetics," said Darren
“Part of the feature of Northville Road is the bungalows. These changes are taking homes built for families and changing them into eight-bedroom monstrosities that can never go back to being bungalows, yet are in the middle of the remaining bungalows, looking out of place."
“Where are our ageing population going to live if we lose the bungalows?” asked Urszula.
Clare Farthing, a great grandmother aged 73 has a different perspective.
“I am not against HMOs for single people and as small units they work well, but it has to be the right neighbourhood, and this is not it.” 
Said Clare: “I know that some of my more elderly neighbours are so anxious and worried about it, they just aren’t sleeping. Yet (landlords) identify Northville Road as a business opportunity.
“Whilst I can see that it would be tempting to sell, particularly if a family member has just died, it really is up to us to stop it. The councils certainly don’t seem to be able.”
Natasha Diment and Chris Lawrence, both 29, are a young couple, also on Northville Road.
Natasha said: “I’m not against HMOs, nor am I against people making money. But already there are not enough parking spaces, there cannot be room for more. 
"The first I knew of what was happening was when the scaffolding appeared around number 64.”
Some of the residents feel the problem is not the introduction of another HMO, but the choice of building to convert. 
Chris explained his feelings.“If it were a 5-bed house no one would have been any the wiser. Add another 2 bedrooms upstairs and it’s probably no different to other houses on this road.”
Filtonvoice attempted to speak to the owners of properties in Northville Road but were unable to do so.