A LANDLORD has described as ‘offensive’ a councillor’s claims that the high number of Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs) in the town centre is having detrimental effects on the community.
Coun John Slinger has organised a petition, signed by nearly 400 people, urging Rugby Borough Council to limit the number of HMOs in the town.
But a landlord who operates several HMOs in Rugby has hit back at his claims that the homes increase littering, anti-social behaviour and crime, put pressure on parking, and contribute to a lack of affordable housing.
Mark Kane said: “The councillor is using very sweeping statements which may cause unrest in the local community and ignite aggressive behaviour towards certain minorities.”
He said Coun Slinger’s claim about anti-social behaviour was a ‘broad statement’ which marginalised a section of the community who have to rely on HMO accommodation for financial reasons.
He added: “In many cases the neighbourhood is safer with a licensed HMO than with general ‘to let’ properties, which are not controlled by the owners or agents following occupation, and do not have to be licensed by the council.
“Most HMO tenants do not own cars, this is why they seek town centre accommodation. The issue of general waste management is a condition of the HMO license to operate.
“The tenant demographic is not the intended market for affordable housing – contract workers from outside town make up a large proportion of HMO tenants in the Rugby region.
“Legislation which became law in 2018 sets a minimum space and amenities standard for all HMOs, which are applied by the council and HMO operators as license criteria.
“Problems normally arise in smaller non-licensed HMOs as they are nothing more than shared houses or a small group of acquaintances living together. Professional landlords will operate in the medium and large licensed and compliant HMO sector.
“HMOs offer a valuable asset to Rugby by securing affordable accommodation for the many workers who add value to our region.”
Coun Slinger accepted Mr Kane’s invitation to visit HMOs and meet tenants, welcoming ‘the opportunity for a robust and respectful debate about this important issue’.
The newly-elected Labour councillor for New Bilton said: “We are not opposed to HMOs in general, but are concerned about their over-concentration in one small area and in streets whose housing stock was designed for families. We believe the demand for private rented accommodation in HMOs should be shared equally across the whole borough.
“Nor are we hostile to the tenants themselves, who are just seeking low cost housing. We simply do not think that such a high concentration of this type of housing is appropriate for the area.
“Local residents have raised all of the issues referred to in my petition and have been raising similar issues for years.
“Myself and my fellow councillors for New Bilton and Benn wards are more than happy to accept Mr Kane’s invitation. For further balance, we also invite him to meet some of our residents to hear their views and experiences about when there are too many HMO conversions in their neighbourhood.”
Coun Slinger said he would present his petition to council leader Coun Seb Lowe this week.