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Plans for seven-bedroom HMO in Broughton backed for approval despite widespread opposition

Plans to turn a family home into a seven-bedroom House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) have been backed for approval despite widespread opposition.

About 50 objections have been submitted against proposals to convert the current three-bedroom property on Larne Drive in Broughton.

It comes amid concerns from residents that it would have a negative impact on the neighbourhood and lead to parking problems.

Broughton Community Council and local councillor Billy Mullin have also voiced strong criticism.

However, the application has been recommended to receive the green light by Flintshire Council’s chief planning officer.

In a report set to go before councillors next week, Andrew Farrow said the scheme was acceptable because it was in a residential area.

He said: “The dwelling is located within a row of similar properties upon a modern residential estate.

“Given the above, it is considered that the built nature of the proposal will not have a significant detrimental impact upon the character and appearance of the existing dwelling or streetscene in which it is located.

“There is a concern that the increased residential use of the HMO, would leave to an increase in the parking requirements above what would reasonably expected of a private dwelling.

“The proposed parking provision submitted shows the front of the property will accommodate three cars clear of the highway.

“A condition is imposed to ensure that the parking provision is provided and maintained on site, in perpetuity.”

It’s not the first time plans for a HMO in Broughton have caused controversy.

In December 2018, proposals to create bedsits on Gladstone Road were approved on appeal, despite originally being refused by the local authority following a protest by neighbours.

Worries have been raised that the latest scheme could lead to a rise in anti-social behaviour, but Mr Farrow said such claims had not been proven.

He said: “Concerns have been expressed that the proposals would cause noise/disturbance with the extensions also adversely affecting light and privacy upon existing neighbouring occupiers.
“Some of these concerns and fears relate to the future occupants of the development.

“Concerns that tenants could cause these problems are not unique to HMOs and there is no evidence to substantiate this is the case.

“Anti-social behaviour could equally apply to other forms of residential occupation.

“It is considered that all of the matters in the consideration of this proposal are acceptable and that planning permission should be granted.”

Proposals to extend the property to provide extra accommodation were approved in October last year.

The most recent application will be discussed at a meeting of the council’s planning committee at County Hall in Mold on Wednesday.

By Liam Randall

Source: Deeside

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Plans to turn Wrexham family home into HMO approved on appeal

Plans to turn a family home on the edge of Wrexham town centre into a house in multiple occupation (HMO) have been approved on appeal.

Councillors originally rejected proposals to convert the house on Salop Road into five bedsits in September because of the large number of similar properties nearby.

They said it would breach council guidelines which state the maximum amount of HMOs allowed within a 50 metre radius of any given location should be no more than ten per cent.

Permitting the application would have increased the concentration of bedsits in the area to 16 per cent.

However, their decision has now been overturned by an inspector appointed by the Welsh Government following a successful appeal.

In a report, Hywel Wyn Jones said he could find no proof of the planning committee’s claims that the scheme would have a negative social impact.

He said: “There is no substantive evidence before me to indicate that the existing presence of HMOs in this mixed-use part of the town is causing an over concentration that is affecting the social fabric or residential amenity of the community, nor that the scheme would be likely to create such problems.

“My visit did not reveal any of the physical manifestations that can arise from such developments, such as high numbers of letting signs, unkempt frontages, or household waste strewn along the street.

“As the ten per cent threshold is one provided in guidance to assist decision makers, it should not be slavishly followed as though it were an absolute limit.

“The mixed-use character of this edge of town centre location reinforces my view in this respect.

“Thus, on this main issue I conclude that the proposed use would not be harmful to the social fabric or residential amenity of the host community.”

The plans were also refused on the grounds it would cause an increase in demand for parking on the street, adding to existing problems.

While Mr Wyn Jones acknowledged there was pressure on the amount of spaces, he concluded the scheme would not give rise to an additional demand.

He added: “None of the matters raised in objection to the scheme lead me away from finding that it is acceptable.

“I shall therefore allow the appeal subject to the conditions suggested by the council and one to deal with cycle storage.”

By Liam Randall

Source: Wrexham

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Armley Park Road HMO application withdrawn

An application to convert a four-bedroomed house in Armley Park Road into a six-bedroomed house of multiple occupation (HMO) has been withdrawn, writes Keely Bannister.

According to a notice issued by Leeds City Council, the application was withdrawn following an e-mail from Michael Sunderland from DMS Architecture Ltd, who is the development’s agent.

Details of the e-mail has not been made publicly available.

Mr Carpenter lodged the application with Leeds City Council in July, with the notice to withdraw being placed in December.

The proposed development would have involved the lowering of the properties basement floor and the conversion of this space from storage into a living room and en-suite bedroom.

The ground floor living room would also have been converted into a bedroom.

As reported previously in The Dispatch, objections were lodged against the application with other residents on the street stating that the property was being “kept in a state of disrepair” and that the road is “already packed full of cars” which “packing in more renting tenants” wouldn’t improve.

Consultation was sought from the Canal and River Trust, who had no comment to make and the council’s Highways Team, who had no objection to the application, subject to a number of conditions around cycle and bin storage being met.

Source: West Leeds Dispatch

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Bid to turn Wrexham town centre house into HMO refused over parking issues

A bid to create a house in multiple occupation (HMO) near Wrexham town centre has been thrown out because of fears it will added to parking issues.

Proposals to turn a three-bedroom house on Oxford Street, which is close to Eagles Meadow shopping centre, into five bedsits were originally submitted in October.

Objections were raised ahead of the application being considered by councillors on Monday as a result of the lack of parking spaces on the road.

Local councillor Adrienne Jeorrett said the situation had become so bad that one resident who lives on the street was forced to return their disability car.

Addressing Wrexham Council’s planning committee, she said: “Whilst I accept the need for low cost housing, it’s a great disappointment to me that in 2019 adults are having to live in one room with a long term impact on health and wellbeing.

“In Oxford Street and the surrounding roads parking is a major problem for residents. This proposed HMO will add to that problem.

“To say that Oxford Street is near town does not mean that residents work in town.

“It does not mean that someone does not need a car, especially if they work somewhere where public transport no longer reaches.

“One resident in this street has already had to send back a disability car because they couldn’t park in the street.”

The local authority’s chief planning officer had recommended the scheme should be given the go ahead.

In a report, Lawrence Isted disputed claims that it would make the parking situation worse as the property was located close to the town’s bus and railway stations.

But the council’s highways department backed refusal because of the “significant” demand for parking in the area.

Highway development control engineer Peter Douthwaite said: “We’ve looked at it and the proposal is deemed to be increasing the level of parking requirement in an area already suffering from parking problems.

“We think it should be refused due to lack of parking provision.”

Councillors unanimously voted to reject the proposals at the end of the debate.

By Liam Randall

Source: Wrexham

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HMO plans for former bar and hotel submitted for a second time

Plans to turn a bar and hotel on the outskirts of town into a HMO have been resubmitted, despite being rejected last month.

The proposals for the former Soul Suite and Albion Hotel in Pen y Bryn include converting the three storeys into 11 bedrooms.

This would include four bedrooms on the ground floor, along with a living / dining room and toilet and shower facilities. A further three bedrooms and a communal kitchen area would be on the second floor and four bedrooms with en suite facilities on the fourth floor.

It is the second time such plans have been put forward for the building, with the applicants stating earlier this year that despite the ground floor being advertised to let since 2017, they had received little interest.

At the time the applicants said the development is “within close proximity to the town centre, public transport links, shops, a primary school and various bars and restaurants, which will also less residents’ reliance on cars.

“Based on the above assessment, we believe that the proposal will not have a detrimental affect on the parking around the vicinity of the proposed development site.”

However last month Wrexham.com reported that Lawrence Isted, the council’s chief officer of planning and regulatory had refused the application via a delegated decision.

In his findings, Mr Isted said that the development would be contrary to planning policy. However he added that the council would look “more favourably upon a less intensive scheme which retains the commercial use on the ground floor and creates quality residential apartments on the upper floors, more in keeping with the Pen y Bryn mixed use regeneration area.”

The resubmitted application will be considered for approval at a later date.

Source: Wrexham

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Plans to increase capacity of HMO refused amid parking and litter concerns

Plans to increase the capacity of a house in multiple occupation (HMO) on the outskirts of Wrexham town centre have been rejected because of concerns over parking and litter.

An application was entered in May to increase the amount of residents able to live at a property on Beechley Road in Hightown from six to eight.

It came as owner Andrew Shield said he wanted to allow couples to live in two of the rooms to meet the demand for accommodation in the area.

The scheme was given the backing of Wrexham Council’s chief planning officer ahead of a meeting on Monday to decide the plans.

However, members of the local authority’s planning committee refused permission after being told about the lack of parking and issues with overspilling bins on the street, which is already home to several HMOs.

Speaking at Wrexham’s Guildhall, local councillor Graham Rogers said: “The proposed development would result in an over-concentration to the detriment of the social fabric of the area.

“Beechley Road currently has six HMOs within a 50-metre radius, and I consider the likelihood that the proposed suggestion to increase from six to eight occupants will result in an increase in parking demands.

“For those reasons I am requesting that the approval be refused for the proposed development, which does not make adequate provision for the parking of vehicles.

“The current HMO on Beechley Road carries an increase in the amount of refuse with bins being overused, resulting in litter over spilling onto the footpaths and carriageway. On most weekends I’m having to clear litter with the aid of the community payback team.”

Members of the Beechley Road Residents’ Association also wrote to planning committee members to highlight issues with noise from the HMO properties.

It came after they previously campaigned against a separate bedsit application on the same street.

The latest scheme was recommended for approval by the council’s chief planning officer, who said it was unlikely to lead to an increased demand for parking spaces.

In his report Lawrence Isted said: “I have considered the concerns of the residents in regard to parking and noise nuisance.

“With regard to parking, I appreciate that there are a significant number of vehicles that park on the carriageway with no provision for parking on site.

“Highways have no objections to the proposed development on the grounds that the proposed development is unlikely to result in parking demand compared with its current residential use.

“Noise nuisance can be addressed by public protection.”

Despite his recommendation, councillors chose to refuse permission because of the impact on parking with 15 votes against the plans and two abstentions.

By Liam Randall

Source: Wrexham

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Plans for shared house in Brighton attract opposition

Neighbours have the support of their area’s councillors in opposing plans for a shared house.

St Peter’s and North Laine councillors Pete West and Lizzie Deane sent a joint letter against plans to turn a four-bedroom house into a five-bedroom shared house or HMO (house in multiple occupation) in Crescent Road.

The plans are recommended for approval when they go before Brighton and Hove City Council’s Planning Committee next week.

In their 25 letters of objection, neighbours raised concerns about the number of shared houses in the Roundhill area, as well as noise from the roof terrace and the loss of a family home.

Crescent Road is in an area where limits are placed on new HMOs.

No more than 10 per cent of homes within a 50-metre radius of any proposed HMO should already be a shared house.

Calculations by the council show that there are 84 properties within 50 metres and seven of these are shared houses, under the limit.

One anonymous neighbour’s objection said: “The property is in a conservation area and adding more residents and a roof terrace would detract from the character of the area, which is one of single dwelling houses. The conversion to HMO does nothing to enhance the conservation area.

“Many family homes in Brighton have been lost to similar HMO conversion, and this would reduce the supply of much-needed family homes.”

Another objection said: “Crescent Road is already oversubscribed with HMOs.

“The proposed roof terrace is inappropriate and not in keeping with the conservation area. It also constitutes a noise nuisance to the neighbours and surrounding area.”

Councillor West wrote: “The HMO density in Crescent Road is already approaching saturation and this HMO cannot therefore be permitted.

“I note it has been pointed out that not all existing HMOs in Crescent Road have been recognised on the map.

“Questions have also been raised over the adequacy of provision for refuse storage and impact on parking and traffic in the area.

“I believe this proposal will adversely affect the Conservation Area, have a detrimental effect on property value, impact residential amenity by increasing noise (and) represent overdevelopment.”

The Roundhill Society also objected, saying: “Numbers 26 (and) 28a Crescent Road already are operating as HMOs.

“If 22 Crescent Road is allowed, then the family living in 24 Crescent Road will be ‘sandwiched’ within a row of HMOs with all the noise and negative impact on family life (that) a large student occupied house would have.

“This would be entirely inappropriate. The density of HMOs in this area is already excessive.”

The Planning Committee is due to meet next Wednesday (6 November) at Hove Town Hall. The meeting is scheduled to start at 2pm and should be open to the public.

By Sarah Booker-Lewis

Source: Brighton And Hove News

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Five reasons to consider including an HMO property in a portfolio

It’s hard to think of a time when landlords have faced such an uncertain playing field as today.

A raft of regulation and taxation changes have had a significant impact on bottom lines, whilst the market has slowed as we wait and see what the impact of Brexit will be.

Unsurprisingly then, landlords have been looking for alternative ways to increase yields as well as diversify their portfolio to minimise any potential risk.

For many, HMOs have been one such way.

The number of landlords who have gone down this route already speaks for itself: the BVA BDRC’s latest survey shows that one in five landlords now have an HMO property in their portfolio.

Knowing this, it’s highly likely that brokers will be facing an increase in enquiries from landlords considering diversifying into HMOs and wanting to know the considerations to factor in.

Higher yields

The well-publicised advantage of HMOs is that rental yields are often higher than for a typical rental property.

The same BVA BDRC research suggests the average yield for an HMO is one-fifth higher.

For example, a landlord taking in nearly £12,800 in rent each year for an HMO, compared to £10,750 for a standard property.

Before we get carried away, we should remember that costs are also likely to be higher than a standard rental property.

An HMO license can range considerably from under £100 to over £1,000 depending on the property location.

Work may be needed on the property to ensure that it is compliant with regulation.

This could involve ensuring bedrooms are a minimum size, providing the right number and location of bathrooms or even extending the kitchen worktop.

Day to day, the potential higher turnover of tenants and more intensive use also means higher costs in terms of maintenance.

It’s important to do your sums but if costs can be kept reasonably low, yields can still be good.

Rental voids have less impact

Letting each room individually, inevitably involves more work at the start due to vetting each individual tenant when they move in but careful investigation at the start will pay off when it comes to them moving out.

When a tenant moves out of a single let property, there’s a total loss of income but with a multi-let property, the remaining rooms remain tenanted therefore limiting total impact.

Less exposure to arrears

The same ‘eggs in multiple baskets’ logic applies to arrears. Having several sources of income – with tenants paying smaller monthly rents for a room within a property – a landlord is less exposed if a tenant falls behind on their rent.

In the current economic climate, with fears of a downturn post-Brexit and potential job losses being bandied around, this potential benefit might sit well with some landlords.

Tax advantages

One difference between HMOs and single-let properties is the potential to claim income tax relief on qualifying items.

This applies to the costs associated within the communal areas, which are treated as an expense of the rental business.

Normal rental losses are only rolled forward for offset against future rental properties.

However, capital allowances can be offset against non-property income to generate tax rebates, which could add up to a significant amount.

However it’s important not to advise on any tax related questions yourself, always point your clients towards a professional tax adviser.

There is a need for flexible, affordable housing

Keeping costs affordable for your target audience is particularly important as you want to try and attract long term tenants rather than a series of short-term lets.

Renting is popular with students, young professionals, mobile workers and single people so keep this mind.

The private rented sector as a whole has doubled since 2000, and now accounts for one fifth of all homes in Great Britain.

With the rising cost of living, particularly in cities, combined with population growth and a shortage of affordable housing, HMOs or “house shares” could help to fix the problems we face in the housing market.

HMOs offer a far cheaper alternative to renting an entire property by enabling tenants to split household bills, while allowing them the privacy of their own bedroom.

In this shifting market, brokers’ advice is likely to be valued even more by landlords. This area of the market requires brokers to stay one step ahead, always on the lookout for any regulatory changes and trends.

By Adrian Moloney

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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Agent is fined £80,000 over HMO failures discovered after blaze in attic

A letting agent has been fined £80,000 for HMO failures after a fire at one of the properties.

Orange Living, trading as Loc8me, had failed to license four HMOs, an investigation by council officials in Leicestershire revealed.

The investigation by Charnwood Borough Council was triggered by a fire in the attic of one of the homes managed by Loc8me in Loughborough.

All four properties were shared and had three storeys.

At Leicester Magistrates Court, the firm admitted four offences and was fined £20,000 for each. It was also ordered to pay costs of £3,690.

The attic blaze was attended by firefighters who found that the smoke detector had batteries missing, and that there were insufficient fire doors.

One of the occupants said they had emailed Loc8me’s maintenance team twice before the fire with concerns, but no one came.

There were no phone numbers for Loc8me displayed in the property, with tenants having to rely on email or a WhatsApp group.

Applications for HMO licences had been received by the local council, but had information missing, and so the properties went unlicensed.

Raffaele Russo, one of the directors of Orange Living Ltd, was interviewed by council officers and he confirmed that none of the four properties had a licence.

He stated that the lack of HMO licensing was a clerical error.

Russo said the fire alarms had been tested on a number of occasions.

With regard to failure to provide name, address and telephone number in a prominent position in the HMO, Russo did not know whether emergency contact details were displayed in the property. He said that tenants used a WhatsApp group.

During the court hearing, Russo accepted that there should have been mains-connected smoke alarms on an interconnected circuit and fire doors where needed.

After the hearing, Cllr Margaret Smidowicz, the council’s lead member for licensing, said it was a significant sentence and that she was pleased the courts had taken the matter seriously.

She said: “Licensing is there to ensure living and safety standards are met, and we will not hesitate to take action and use the full force of the law to make sure those standards are being met.”

By ROSALIND RENSHAW

Source: Property Industry Eye

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Wrexham lettings agent and landlord prosecuted by council over HMO regulation breach

A private landlord in Wrexham has been prosecuted by Wrexham Council for operating an unlicensed house in multiple occupation (HMO).

At Mold Magistrates Court yesterday, landlord Jane Sabio – who had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing – was fined £5,000, with costs of £1,697 and a £170 victim surcharge also imposed.

An officer from the council’s Environmental Health and Housing Standards team found the unlicensed HMO during an inspection following up on a complaint due to lack of repairs.

Letting agents Countrywide, trading as Beresford Adams, also pleaded guilty to a number of breaches at the same property, including inadequate fire safety measures and failing to supply an electrical safety certificate to Wrexham Council.

In sentencing at Wrexham Magistrates Court earlier this month, Countrywide was fined a total of £22,500, plus a £107 victim surcharge and £2,819 costs.

Cllr Hugh Jones, lead member for communities, partnerships, public protection and community safety, said: “The council is proactively working with landlords and letting agents to assist them in raising standards for tenants.

“But if they choose not to cooperate and not to comply with the legal requirements, we will have no hesitation in taking firm enforcement action, as this case demonstrates.”

Wrexham Council say: “Most landlords and letting agents ensure HMOs are properly licensed and maintained, but if your landlord or letting agent fails to acquire an HMO licence or carry out the necessary repairs and make adequate fire safety arrangements, you can contact the Environmental Health and Housing Standards team by e-mail at HealthandHousing@wrexham.gov.uk or on 01978 292040.

“We keep a list of currently licensed HMOs on our website, and also provide information on what an HMO is, and how they can be licensed.”

Source: Wrexham