Residents in Birmingham Vent Anger over HMOs

Residents in Handsworth Wood have spoken out against the rise in shared houses in the area, labelling them a ‘blight on our neighbourhoods’.

Fly-tipping from tenants in HMOs (houses in multiple occupation) continues to be an issue for residents who say ‘the beauty of Handsworth Wood is slowly being eroded’.

HMOs are properties rented out to at least 3 people who share facilities like the bathroom and kitchen.

Ruth Lockley, who has lived in the area for 38 years, said: “residents are struggling to maintain the cleanliness of their road whilst tolerating such a level of disruption to their lives.”

Recently, the Handsworth Wood Residents’ Association registered their concerns to the council over an application to convert 78 Handsworth Wood Road into a 14-bedroom HMO complaining that ‘HMOs in the area are already being visited by police regularly, giving great concern to neighbours.’

Currently, any landlord wishing to rent out a property as a HMO must apply for a licence from the council.

Each licence lasts five years after which it must be renewed.

Lorraine Briscoe, a resident in the Handsworth Wood area, said: “Many landlords are just interested in the money and not the effect a HMO can have on an area.

“They often let a room to one person who brings in two other people to share the one room.”

At present the council does not have any enforcement powers over private rented sector tenants but work closely with landlords of registered HMOs to improve accommodation standards.

A spokesperson for Birmingham City Council said: “The council has approved an approach to consider the use of Selective Licensing powers, which will help us to identify where landlords are meeting safe and proper standards.

They added: “Handsworth Wood is one of the areas we would like to look at, however we would need to consult with residents before making any decision.”

Martin White, a resident who moved to Handsworth Wood in the 90s, said: “I have loved and still love living in Handsworth Wood but do notice that things have changed quickly over the last few years and I do think that HMOs are part of the problem.

“I am a landlord and have recently filled in the survey for Birmingham City council asking whether I thought licenses for landlords was a good idea.

“I don’t relish the idea of having to pay a licence fee, but if that’s what it takes to force landlords to be responsible, then maybe a proportionate, sensible license fee is the way to go.”