What Is It Really Like Living In a HMO?

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What Is It Really Like Living In a HMO?

Lorraine Moss
We are constantly hearing about HMO's (houses of multi occupancy).  It was not that long ago that Havering council implemented article 4 so that planning permission now has to be granted in some areas of Havering before a property can become a HMO.

Harold Hill has a large number of these type of properties and many of them were actually converted prior to the article 4 directive.  Many of these are just ordinary 3 bedroom ex council properties that were originally intended as homes for the average size family.  These properties have been causing many problems for neighboring residents including crime and anti social behaviour.  The owners of these properties quite often let them out to vulnerable people and ex offenders.  The rent is covered by Housing Benefit and the price per room is around £675 per month.  The tenants live in tiny rooms which have their own ensuite facilities.  They are not allowed to cook in these rooms because it would be a fire hazard.  There should be no more than 6 people living in one of these HMO properties.  However, many tenants have their partners staying with them so there often can be 9 or 10 people living in each HMO.  

There is an interesting twist, although tenants cannot have cooking facilities in their rooms, each one has its own council tax band !!

You would expect that there would be a spacious communal kitchen for the residents to prepare their food, maybe even a few ovens and plenty of space.  Please see below, this is a photo of the kitchen before this particular HMO was converted.


This is now the size of the kitchen now that the property has been converted;

How on earth are all of the tenants supposed to be able to use this kitchen?  No wonder there is so many arguments and problems with the tenants.  Living like this is a recipe for disaster.  Just to make matter worse, at the time of writing, the oven is not even working !

Please see below, this is the actual rooms that people live in;



I will be updating this post over the next week or so with some first hand account from tenants that live in this HMO and the problems that they face.








“Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world...would do this, it would change the earth.”
― William Faulkner--
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Re: What Is It Really Like Living In a HMO?

Lorraine Moss
This post was updated on .
At Wednesday's Cabinet meeting it was decided to implement the new Landlord licensing scheme is some wards in Havering.  This is a step in the right direction.

Jan Sargent and I a few days prior to the meeting, sent an email to all Cabinet members highlighting the cramped living conditions and lack of facilities in many of these properties.  We also advised of the problems with anti social behaviour that are common place in HMO's and the impact that this has on neighboring residents.

The property that in this post was originally an average sized three bedroom house.  It was classed as a "Band C" for council tax charging and the yearly charge is £1346.

About a year ago, the owners of this particular HMO had an enforcement order served on them for changing this property from a HMO to 6 one bed room flats without obtaining planning permission.  The owners appealed and were successful !  However, in the report the property is described as a small HMO.  Havering council decided then to have each flat (small room) banded for council tax purposes.  So instead of receiving one payment of £1346 per year, each room is classed as a flat and has been given a Band A rating which the yearly charge is £1009.

The dimensions of a typical room is 7ft 5 x 13ft 7 with an ensuite of 2ft 5 by 6ft 5.  There is no room to prepare food and the tenants are not allowed to have any type of cooking equipment in their room/flat.  There is not enough room for a table and chair so most residents have to eat their meals sitting on their beds.

There is one communal kitchen between the 9 people that are currently living there and I am told that the oven has been out of use for some time.  The dimensions of this kitchen are 4ft 6 x 11ft 6.  This only allows one person to use it a time.

There is only one washing machine in the property, there is no tumble dryer of drying areas.  There is no access to the rear garden from the property.  Tenants have to access the garden by going through the front door and using the side access.  The residents therefore have to dry their clothes in their rooms  which causes condensation and damp and is a risk to their health.

We do not understand how Havering Council can class these tiny ill equipped rooms as self contained flats and demand council tax from each tenant??  This is a disgrace and urgent action needs to be taken.  They should be looking to improve peoples living conditions rather than seeing it as  an opportunity to get more council tax revenue.  This is just one property, I am sure that there are many more like this in Havering and I wonder how many more small rooms are conveniently being classed as flats?
“Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world...would do this, it would change the earth.”
― William Faulkner--
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Re: What Is It Really Like Living In a HMO?

Percy
Better than the family living in a shed in my street.
Revolutions are always verbose.
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Re: What Is It Really Like Living In a HMO?

Lorraine Moss
Hi Percy, have you contacted Planning Enforcement?
“Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world...would do this, it would change the earth.”
― William Faulkner--
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Re: What Is It Really Like Living In a HMO?

Percy
Yes no result. They are no problem its more worry about them.
Revolutions are always verbose.
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Re: What Is It Really Like Living In a HMO?

Lorraine Moss
They should take action.  I would contact them again.  It is going to start getting really cold soon, the sooner they are out of there the better.  How big is the shed?
“Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world...would do this, it would change the earth.”
― William Faulkner--
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Re: What Is It Really Like Living In a HMO?

confused of hornchurch
In reply to this post by Lorraine Moss


"I am told that the oven has been out of use for some time."

Thank heaven for small mercies!  Anybody using the oven, microwave or sockets whilst having their other hand in that sink/or under running water could put themselves at risk of electric shock or death.

I personally wouldn't operate anything in there, but what do I know, I'm fairly sure that installation is unsafe/illegal. I would want that checked by a competent electrician.

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Re: What Is It Really Like Living In a HMO?

dalek1
Connie this landlord licencing mullarky is just another cash cow for this bent administration.
Do you believe for one minute they give a shit about the conditions the poor sods who live there have to put up with?
No nice little earner for the senior leaderless oh leadership teams gold plated pension pots.
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Re: What Is It Really Like Living In a HMO?

bellend
newham is full of sheds with sky dishes.
If we learn from our mistakes, why aint I a genius, If you educate the masses where's the advantage for the few?

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Re: What Is It Really Like Living In a HMO?

Michael Towner
Banned User
In reply to this post by Lorraine Moss
Many years ago I lived in an HMO in Manchester (Wilbraham Road for any of you who know that great city) and the experience wasn't bad except for a few months when we had a tenant who abused the common areas by using them as a toilet - and not just the stand-up version if you get my drift. His idea of a night out was fifteen pints of guinness & cider plus pickled eggs and salt & vinegar crisps. Followed by a vindaloo and a few lagers. Added to which he suffered with serious chalfonts and was gay - his life down below can't have been a bowl of cherries at the best of times. Havering doesn't have many HMOs so its expertise in managing them can't be first-class, but that's no reason why the tenants should suffer.
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Re: What Is It Really Like Living In a HMO?

Percy
In reply to this post by Lorraine Moss
About the size of a single garage 14 feet by 8 feet.
Revolutions are always verbose.
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Re: What Is It Really Like Living In a HMO?

Percy
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Re: What Is It Really Like Living In a HMO?

Lorraine Moss
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How many people are living in there Percy?  Are there any children living in there?
“Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world...would do this, it would change the earth.”
― William Faulkner--
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Re: What Is It Really Like Living In a HMO?

Percy
Hard to say at least four and two are quite young They share the house facilities.
Revolutions are always verbose.
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Re: What Is It Really Like Living In a HMO?

Lorraine Moss
In reply to this post by Lorraine Moss
Jan Sargent and I have just submitted an appeal on behalf of the residents of this HMO.  We are requesting that it is re banded back to band C and the owner of the property should be liable for the charge.  

Currently each room is rated as Band A, this is despite the fact that they have no room in their rooms to prepare food, they cannot have any cooking equipment in their rooms, there is only one washing machine and no drying facilities, they have no back door to access the rear garden.  The only kitchen they can use can only fit one person at a time.

There are other Band A properties in Havering that have separate kitchens, lounge, bathrooms and bedroom.
“Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world...would do this, it would change the earth.”
― William Faulkner--
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Re: What Is It Really Like Living In a HMO?

HaveringPerson
Hi Lorraine, you may recognise this username from the old iPad days!

Just saw this on the RR site - http://www.romfordrecorder.co.uk/news/figures-reveal-havering-council-only-carried-out-18-housing-safety-inspections-last-year-1-5253293

I posted a reply to the story but I'm more than aggrieved at this "landlord licence" that LBH have put into force. Who on earth do they think is going to be paying this apart from increased rents to tenants?

I was under the impression that local authorities could prosecute rogue landlords anyway, so what exactly does this new charge empower them with?
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Re: What Is It Really Like Living In a HMO?

Lorraine Moss
I certainly do.  Welcome to The Havering Forum.  It was Angry of Havering back then.

The licensing scheme does give them more enforcement powers.  It is already up and running in Newham.  I will try and dig out the minutes of the recent cabinet meeting.  

They also will have powers to issue fines to landlords as well.
“Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world...would do this, it would change the earth.”
― William Faulkner--
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Re: What Is It Really Like Living In a HMO?

Lorraine Moss
The minutes are not available yet but you can read the cabinet report here http://democracy.havering.gov.uk/documents/g3630/Public%20reports%20pack%2011th-Oct-2017%2019.30%20Cabinet.pdf?T=10   Pages 83 to 198.
“Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world...would do this, it would change the earth.”
― William Faulkner--
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Re: What Is It Really Like Living In a HMO?

HaveringPerson
In reply to this post by Lorraine Moss
Well that's good news but the costs will just be passed directly on to tenants. I don't understand why it's not just a nominal cost for the licence (that gives them extra powers). It's almost like it's yet another revenue earning stream......
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Re: What Is It Really Like Living In a HMO?

HaveringPerson
In reply to this post by Lorraine Moss
Thanks Lorraine, please expand your operations to my neck of the woods, guaranteed vote every time!
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