Residents: “HMOs are threatening our community”

Residents in Lincoln's West End have seen their community weakened by the rapidly growing number of house shares in the area. They want the council to use more reulatory powers available to them. Photo: Oliver Winston

Residents in Lincoln’s West End have seen their community weakened by the rapidly growing number of house shares in the area. They want the council to use more regulatory powers available to them. (Photo: Oliver Winston)

Members of the West End Residents Association committee have spoken out about why they want tighter planning regulations in the city.

The West End Residents Association (WERA) was set up at the end of the 1990s, shortly after the University of Lincoln (then known as University of Lincolnshire and Humberside) established its Brayford campus.

With just a short walking distance from campus and plenty of large houses, the West End was quickly spotted by landlords as a prime location for student housing. Converting a family house into a flat share for more occupants generates more money in rent.

Since then, more and more houses have been bought and turned into HMOs (houses of multiple occupancy). Gary Hughes said: “We don’t have exact figures, but we are quite sure that the number of shared houses in the West End amounts to more than 30% of all the houses in the area.

“It has reached a tipping point; we simply cannot take more HMOs and keep the community together at the same time.

“Local business loses almost half their customers when students go home for the holidays, so many shut down. Issues with noise late at night, anti-social behaviour and parking is becoming increasingly difficult.

“What we want is a cap on the number of shared houses in our area. It is already on a critical level, and the local community cannot take any more.”

Lincoln's West End, a popular residential area. Photo: Luke Pennington via Flickr.

Lincoln’s West End, a popular residential area. (Photo: Luke Pennington via Flickr)

WERA set up a petition to make the local City of Lincoln Council use regulatory powers available to them, and over 1,100 people in the West End area have signed it. The association says other cities such as Nottingham and Oxford are using these powers with great success.

Nigel Manders said: “We are welcoming the fact that the city council is now discussing using more powers to regulate the private renting market in Lincoln.

“In Nottingham, these powers have been used to create a better local community for families, students and young professionals. We want the same here and a cap on the number of shared houses in the West End.”

The committee says they are not anti-students, and that better regulation will benefit them as well. Mr Manders added: “We have heard from many students living in our area that they too are suffering anti-social behaviour and people shouting in the streets at 3am. A lot of students living here are very friendly and make good neighbours, but when so many live in such a small area, the bad apples create problems for everyone else.

“Many of the landlords are serious and we have a good contact with them. Sadly there are some who only rent out shared houses to use them as a cash cow. The worst ones do not care about the most essential maintenance, and we see how the tenants are left to cope with leaky roofs and broken boilers.”

Gary Hughes says the local council is losing out too. As students do not pay council tax, there is not enough compensation for the extra pressure they put on services such bin collection. He said:

“The council has, in part, brought this on themselves by not doing proper planning and using their powers to shape the city in way that is to the best for residents, both transient and permanent.”

One Response to Residents: “HMOs are threatening our community”

  1. cllr Keith Moore says:

    well done to west end residents association we in Goole are facing the same problems even though we are not a university town its down to property speculators who have seen a means to make a quick buck, where hmo’s have been established the value of neighbouring properties fall significantly, all the council says it ” this is not a planning consideration ” change of law required.