Plan to halt the number of Dudley HMOs backed after link with increased crime levels

A plan to limit the number of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) across Dudley borough has been given the go-ahead after they were linked with increased crime levels.

Dudley Council
Dudley Council

The direction will give more power to the authority to restrict existing properties from being converted into HMOs across various parts of the town.

While they help to meet a specific housing need, especially for those on a low income, there are concerns that ‘high concentrations in certain areas are harming their character, putting pressure on infrastructure and diminishing community relations.

The main issues with HMOs revolve around anti-social behaviour, noise, inadequate living conditions, litter and parking issues, it is claimed.

Evidence provided by West Midlands Police and the council’s Anti-Social Behaviour team found a correlation between HMOs and increased crime and drug offence levels.

On Monday, Dudley council agreed for an order to be drawn up which would mean anyone trying to turn a home into an HMO for up to six people would need to get planning permission from the council, whereas currently, they do not.

The proposal, referred to as an Article 4 direction, will now go out for public feedback for at least six weeks before coming back for cabinet approval.

But even then it would not be implemented for another 12 months to give developers and landowners notice and avoid the risk of them claiming compensation from the council.

Evidence gathered by the council identified that there are an estimated 2,208 HMOs currently in use across the borough. Around 300 of these require a Mandatory License as they contain 5 or more tenants.

Labour’s housing spokesman Adam Aston proposed the introduction of a borough-wide Article 4 Direction under the Town and Country Planning Act in October.

Councillor Aston said: “HMOs aren’t bad, but poorly located and poorly managed HMOs are bad, we have seen communities across Dudley suffer from the effects of large numbers of people living within small or inappropriate properties, my proposal will see the council’s Development Control Committee once again have the power to scrutinise and potentially refuse requests to change the use of a property.”

There is currently a huge spread of HMOs across the borough, with large concentrations within Wards surrounding Dudley town centre, Stourbridge town centre, Lye, Halesowen town centre, Shell Corner, Brierley Hill, Coseley and Gornal, with smaller concentrations in other areas.

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