Council: “Swift” action on multiple occupancy houses agreed

Havering Town Hall

Havering Town Hall - Credit: Archant

Plans to tackle the “growing problem” of properties which house multiple tenants have been given the go-ahead.

Yesterday, Havering’s cabinet rubber-stamped proposals to bring in two Article 4 directions on HMOs (Houses in Multiple Occupation).

This will require all developers converting properties to apply for planning permission, regardless of the number of storeys.

The first direction will cover housing in specific locations, but the second will be borough-wide and relate only to semi-detached and terraced homes.

Cabinet members at the Havering Town Hall meeting, in Main Road, Romford, spoke of the importance of tackling the issue, which fully came to light in March when Harold Hill residents at a public meeting called for action.

Council leader Cllr Roger Ramsey (Emerson Park, Conservative) said the local authority will act “as swiftly as it can” to tackle the “growing problem” of HMOs in some wards.

The plans are not expected to come into force for more than a year, prompting Labour leader Cllr Keith Darvill (Heaton), who sat in on the meeting, to voice concerns about a delay.

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However, a council officer confirmed that the Article 4s brought in by other boroughs have also been non-immediate.

Cllr Osman Dervish (Pettits, Conservative), cabinet member for regulatory services and community safety, said: “This is not going to eliminate HMOs, it just means they have to put an application in.

“They will still be built.”

Prior to the meeting, Cllr Dervish said the new rules aim to “benefit everyone”, including the occupiers of HMOs, and said he hopes they will show the council’s “commitment to encouraging people to take pride in where they live”.

The areas to be covered will not be announced for a few weeks, but it is certain Harold Hill will be included.

Members agreed for a further report to be brought to cabinet, outlining plans to improve the monitoring and licensing of HMOs.