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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

Yesterday Housing Minister John Healey announced new local powers to control the spread of high concentrations of shared rented homes and to tackle pockets of unsafe and substandard accommodation run by bad landlords.

Read the full story here.

See the consultation publication here.

(Thanks to Sue Green from the GRA for alerting us to this story)

Tags for Forum Posts: HMOs Article 4, hmos, illegal conversion, new hmo controls, 2011

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A wonderful step in the right direction, let's help Haringey implement it effectively. John Healey looks exactly like Putin in that photo.
Yes, very like Putin - or even the ubiquitous Andrew Marr!

But (not to detract from the importance of its substance) I think this report raises that old chestnut of consultation credibility.
This was a 3-month national consultation, perhaps with an emphasis on metropolitan and coastal residential areas and areas of 'studentification' - yet the abysmal level and number of responses suggests that those (in)famous 5%-8.5% responses elicited by Brian Haley's CPZ 'Consultations' were in fact feats of such magnificence as to prove Brian the greatest Cabinet Minister Britain never had.

In fact the Healey (not Haley) Report does not indicate any percentage figure response to its nationwide consultation, though the Healey story says the response was from "local authorities, resident associations, universities, individuals, MPs, councillors and campaign groups" - the whole gamut as near as dammit.

There were 948 responses (out of how many millions?). HOL could raise that many on the Ladder within a week.

Of this mixed bag of 948, 58% or 550 were just 'standard letters'. I think we all know what they're worth.

9% of the 948 were from 'Local Authorities'. Does this mean that 86 LAs responded???

6% or 58 came from Residents' Associations. Presumably that means from 58 separate RAs.

Analysis of the 958 responses to Qq 1-16 of the Questionnaire shows that 88%-95% answered the basic Qq 1-4 (basically, 'does HMO concentration affect your area/is present planning the problem/which of two options do you suggest?') So what did the other 5%-12% do with their questionnaire?

To Qq 5-16, which were a little more detailed or 'technical', the response level plummeted to 9%-13%. That's something around 100 responses per item. Hopefully those included some of the 86 Local Authority and the 58 RA respondents.

Finally, the more searching 'Impact' (of different 'Options') Questions that followed received a response of 1%-2%, ie between 9 and 24 of the 948.

Whatever the importance of revamping legislation, planning frameworks or definitions on any subject under the sun, is that the sort of 'crowd sourcing' or 'consultation' Government should proceed upon?

But next time I raise a mere few hundred signatures on Wightman Road in whatever cause, I shall draw great consolation from the sterling example of Housing Minister Healey and Cabinet Member Haley.
I can only echo your comments in respect of the credibility of the consultation. I am frankly amazed (and appalled) at the enactment of legislation on the basis of, as you say, such an abysmal number of responses!

I have yet to read the consultation in full, but shall make a point of doing so....

We have yet to see to what extent the legislation will be utilised, the percentage of applications granted / refused etc, but if the intention here is to severely prohibit the number of premises which may be let to 3 or more unrelated sharers then this will surely serve to limit the availability of affordable accommodation to many young professionals?

When I moved to London a few years ago I moved into a house share with four other tenants. Of course it would have been lovely to move into my own little two bedroom garden flat, but that simply is not an option for those on a modest / graduate salary, as was then the case for me.

I do not dispute that a good degree of regulation is required in the private rented sector, but it is perhaps becoming a little excessive.....though there is an element of bias here as I am a property manager and this legislation is just another pain in the backside for me to deal with!!
The Government has not decided to legislate “on the basis of . . . an abysmal number of responses”.
It decided to legislate on the basis of public complaints from different parts of the UK about the local impact of high concentrations of shared homes. Having made a decision in principle it asked for views. My view and the view of my residents’ association was “not before time!”

I’m not anti-landlord. Private - and public - landlords provide homes for millions of people. I grew up in a rented house and then a Council flat (in Hackney). I’m not opposed to all conversions. I lived for several years in houses with converted flats. I am opposed to sustaining a system which has generated vast profits, often through public funding, for bad landlords.

I wrote in to the consultation, as chair of our small local residents’ group, to support local councils getting extra powers. Not to ban people sharing, but to stop the exploitation of some of the most vulnerable people by some of the worst landlords. And because the very high concentration of HMOs and poor quality temporary housing can and does damage and blight entire neighbourhoods.

Many houses in our local area have been turned into multiple occupation, and converted to single bedsits. I’ve seen these tiny hutches which are sometimes used by several people – often described as ‘hot-bedding’.

It seemed to us that the worst landlords have almost free rein. They have had, and probably still do, an endless supply of tenants from local councils and at one stage the National Asylum Service. So, the profits are big and the money easy. Some tenants find homes through private agencies. But they better not complain too much about the damp or the mice – because then the landlord can easily get someone else.

I’m not saying tenants in HMOs or temporary housing are automatically a ‘problem’. At one point I was homeless myself – with a toddler – and very grateful to get a tiny converted flat. (At least until the damp and fungus got too much!). But overcrowded homes and turnover of people can lead to problems. There’s sometimes noise. Often nowhere for kids to play. People’s health can suffer.

The worst landlords see these places simply as an income. They don’t manage properly. They or their builders or (non)-managing agents can add to the problems by dumping, or ignoring problems like fire-risk, overcrowding, lack of proper arrangements for waste. Often the most vulnerable people find themselves dumped in the worst properties. Family life suffers. Children’s futures are blighted.

Unscrupulous bad landlords seem to be able to play the planning system and string things out indefinitely. And if they do get penalised, the fines are a joke compared to the rents they pull in. So it was about time the government acted and I’m pleased I contributed to the consultation.

I’m not surprised by the numbers – probably most people didn’t even know it was happening and I agree the process wasn’t exactly user friendly.

Sorry Philipjm that you find the prospect of better regulation a “pain in the backside”. I think it’s long overdue. Along with many other people, I believe it’s time to hold bad landlords – a lot of whom got rich on public money – to public account. What exactly is wrong with coming down on the worst landlords, raising the standards of the rest and aiming to stop the decline of local communities?

What’s wrong with trying to give everyone a decent home?

(Prospective Labour candidate, St. Ann’s Ward.)
I'm sure they're evading tax too. Why don't you just get the Inland Revenue onto them if you know who they are?

I think Phillipjm was just adding a disclaimer, he wasn't really complaining.
May I add again that my take on it six weeks ago was just on the point of 'consultation credibility' - national government consultation apparently no better than what we've come to expect and joke about here in our own beloved Harringay/Haringey. If you haven't read that consultation publication have a glance over it now.

Zena's totally right, of course, as indeed are Ian, Gina, Bushy, Nora and others who've been fighting the fight locally.
I certainly take some of your points, but the Housing Act 2004 already provides for problem HMOs to be dealt with by councils by introducing a discretionary licensing scheme. The powers of the HA2004 are broad sweeping and can impose very stringent regulations on how the dwelling is to be managed.

This new legislation creates an additional (or rather amends) the Town and Country Planning Act (Use Classes) Order. This is an unlikely scenario, but the legislation would mean that a 7 bedroom 'family house' let to 3 sharers would require planning consent.... more typically, a two bed flat let to an unmarried couple and one other would also need planning consent.

The new legislation has nothing to do with the conversion of dwellings (legally or otherwise) and only with how existing dwellings are to be dealt with.

The new legislation is powerless in, for example, circumstances where a large property has already been lawfully converted into 8 self contained studio flats. Each of those eight studio flats will be let to one or two people therefore the new legislation will not require the submission of a planning application for this type of property....



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