Shabana Mahmood MP has welcomed the introduction of a citywide Article 4 Direction, relating to the regulation of Houses of Multiple Occupancy (HMOs).
Birmingham City Council consulted on the initiative in a 6-week consultation period between Thursday 6 June 2019 and Thursday 18 July 2019. The direction would compel the owners of existing small HMOs to declare their property to Birmingham City Council, and owners of new small HMOs to seek proper planning permission before conversion. Landlords are encouraged to submit information about their small HMOs prior to June 2020, to ensure that they do not need to seek retrospective planning permission.
Shabana has long-campaigned for stricter rules on HMOs, submitting to the consultation in summer 2019. In her submission to the consultation, Shabana said:
“The only people with anything to fear from a city-wide Article 4 Direction are those landlords who ignore their responsibilities. For the rest of Birmingham’s residents – tenants, landlords, and homeowners alike – the benefits are evident and in Birmingham’s best interest. As such I support the introduction of an Article 4 Direction across Birmingham.”
She highlighted that short of a full city-wide landlord licensing scheme in Birmingham to ensure that landlords and agents are fully aware of their responsibilities, the city-wide introduction of an Article 4 Direction would at least begin the process of ensuring all landlords to play by the rules.
You can read her submission in full at the bottom of this page.
Shabana’s submission in full
Ensuring private landlords play by the rules
Everyone deserves to live in a safe, warm and decent home. For thousands of people across Birmingham, that right hangs on the supply of suitable rented accommodation, managed and maintained properly by individual landlords and letting agencies. The vast majority of those landlords understand their responsibilities to their tenants, and take pride in the part they play in supplying homes for Birmingham’s families.
But there still exists a significant minority of unscrupulous landlords. Take, for example, the fly-tipping and dumping that currently plagues so much of Birmingham, some of which is the direct result of landlords dumping the rubbish of previous tenants on the street when a new occupier moves into a property. It costs the Council thousands of pounds to deal with – money that could otherwise be spent on improving our kids playgrounds, or making our streets safer.
Short of a full city-wide landlord licensing scheme in Birmingham to ensure that landlords and agents are fully aware of their responsibilities, something that I also support and am campaigning for, the city-wide introduction of an Article 4 Direction would at least begin the process of ensuring all landlords to play by the rules.
Introducing a requirement for developers of new small HMOs accommodating between 3-6 people to submit a planning application will present an additional layer of checks for landlords. It will require landlords to prove that any existing HMOs they own are appropriately administered, and it will give Birmingham City Council the ability to properly scrutinise any new small HMOs.
A diverse mix of housing solutions
It is clear that a high concentration of HMOs can have a negative impact on the character of neighbourhoods, residential amenity and create strained neighbourhoods. My casework reveals that parts of my constituency that have large concentrations of HMOs also struggle with anti-social behaviour, and all the attendant problems associated with a transient population and poor regulation with no oversight.
I want Birmingham Ladywood to have a diverse mix of housing solutions: social housing, owner-occupiers, regular private letting and HMOs. The introduction of an Article 4 Direction could give more control to the council to enforce that diverse mix, and ensure that one type of housing does not supersede the other.
The draft policy also seeks to resist the creation of new HMOs where they would form more than 10% of residential properties within a 100 metre area, and would also introduce other rules regarding density. Representations from my constituents over the last nine years support this sensible approach.
I welcome comments from the council that the proposed direction does not specifically target students. I note that the consultation document does not refer to specific occupiers.
Success of previous Article 4 Directions
An Article 4 Direction has been applied in parts of Selly Oak, Harborne and Edgbaston since 2014. I understand from discussions with colleagues that this has been successful in managing the distribution of HMOs in those areas.
The only people with anything to fear from a city-wide Article 4 Direction are those landlords who ignore their responsibilities. For the rest of Birmingham’s residents – tenants, landlords, and homeowners alike – the benefits are evident and in Birmingham’s best interest. As such I support the introduction of an Article 4 Direction across Birmingham.