TOO many Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs) in the town centre are having detrimental effects on the community – that is the message from a would-be councillor who is taking residents’ concerns to Rugby Borough Council (RBC).
John Slinger is to present a petition urging the council to limit the number of HMOs in Rugby town centre.
The petition, which has been signed by over 350 residents, claims too many family homes in the town centre are being turned into HMOs – putting pressure on parking, and increasing littering, anti-social behaviour and crime.
Mr Slinger, Rugby Labour Party’s candidate for New Bilton in next week’s local elections, is calling on RBC to require planning permission for all future conversions from houses to HMOs, and that such conversions will no longer be regarded as a permitted use.
He said: “I’ve spoken to hundreds of residents and one issue that keeps coming up is the high number of HMOs in the town centre.
“The high density of HMOs can lead to problems for our community such as difficulty finding parking space, anti-social behaviour, littering and fly-tipping, and the gradual erosion of the sense of community in the town centre.
“RBC has the power to limit HMOs but they choose not to, preferring instead to allow landlords – who often don’t even live in Rugby – to make money as an area declines by buying up homes designed for families and converting them into cramped accommodation for six or more adults.
“It’s part of a broader problem. As properties are bought up for conversion to HMOs there are even fewer properties for young families in the area to buy. The lack of investment in social housing is contributing to a housing crisis. Rugby deserves better than this.”
New Bilton resident Terry Gordon said a landlord recently converted a family home on his street into an HMO for seven people.
He said: “There always seems to be some technicality that allows HMO conversions to be rubber stamped. What is particularly sad is that the council has the power to limit HMOs, but they choose not to.
“It’s not as if people are calling for an end to HMOs, just for their numbers to be limited and the regulations to be properly enforced in the interests of both HMO residents and the wider community.”
Coun Maggie O’Rourke, leader of the Labour Group at RBC, said: “Rather than invest in social housing, or ensure that new developments have sufficient affordable homes, the Tories prefer to allow the proliferation of HMOs in our town centre to the detriment of the community.
“A Labour-run council would take action to limit the number of HMOs. We’d also address the wider housing problems by exploring setting up a council-owned Homes for Rent company, working as a not-for-profit enterprise, renting properties at prices in line with current council properties, with the money being reinvested in future house building.”
Visit https://www.change.org/RugbyHMOsPetition to sign the petition.