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Houses in Multiple Occupation

Volume 692: debated on Monday 19 April 2021

What assessment his Department has made of the effect of homes of multiple occupants on close-knit communities. (914310)

Houses in multiple occupation are a valuable part of the housing market and play an important role in delivering affordable accommodation, which is often vital in the communities that they serve. Most HMOs provide accommodation that is decent and safe for those living in it. Where HMOs may pose a risk to the wellbeing of their inhabitants or to the local area, we have given local councils robust powers to regulate standards and management of HMOs. If necessary, local planning authorities can also limit the proliferation of HMOs by consulting to remove the national permitted development right.

I am sure my hon. Friend would agree that, while most residents in HMOs are law-abiding individuals, there is no escaping the fact that very often the residents in such premises lead extremely different lifestyles from those of their neighbours. This has been a particular issue in the towns of Rossington and Conisbrough, where residents have complained that the increase in the number of HMOs has caused a spike in antisocial behaviour and a loss of community spirit. Despite this, I have not seen the Government mention the necessity of combating this phenomenon in the planning White Paper. What reassurances can my hon. Friend give my constituents that the Government recognise the issues caused by HMOs in small towns and villages, and what work is his Department doing, in conjunction with local authorities, to ensure that such residents are located in more appropriate areas?

I feel a huge degree of sympathy with the constituents of Rossington and Conisbrough who may have suffered antisocial behaviour as a result of HMOs in their area. I understand that my hon. Friend is working assiduously on behalf of his constituents to tackle this. We have given local authorities robust powers to regulate the standards and management of existing HMOs, including HMO licensing, penalties of up to £30,000 for breaches of the law and, for the worst offenders, banning orders. I urge my hon. Friend to press Doncaster Council to exercise those powers if appropriate.