Last night Mary and I attended the Vibrant and Sustainable City Scrutiny Panel.
It was an interesting meeting and amongst the papers delivered was a document that had the ‘Title -Private Homes Strategy 2019-2024.
The document set out the long-term implications and vision for Wolverhampton.
It reflected the situation within the City now in many ways. The authors expect the City to continue to attract people from far and wide. They reminded us that there was a need for good quality homes to house a growing population.
Housing is central to the economic development of the City. The paper clearly pointed out that ambitious planning is required to deliver more and better homes.
It reminded those attending the meeting that improved housing conditions can save lives, prevent disease, increase the quality of life. At a time of depleting social housing and increased house prices the role of the private sector has been increasingly turned to by people living here in Wolverhampton.
I certainly agreed with a statement in the document that said it was Vital for the City to ensure that the private sector is rich with safe and secure accommodation, to promote health and the wellbeing of occupants.
Wolverhampton has a confident housing policy already that is designed to allow people searching for accommodation to Rent with Confidence. We have L&A Lettings in Ashmore Park, that reflect that title, and are amongst the best Agents in the private rental sector in the City.
It is a star rating scheme, and I believe that all the Councillors sat around the table last night were behind this approach. The private rented homes here in this City all through the 1980 and 1990’s was steady at around 10%. But the explosion in house prices, and then the rise in the Buy to Let market, has itself fuelled a huge growth in the private rental sector.
I was astonished to be informed that with 108,020 dwellings in Wolverhampton, that 56% are owner occupiers,18% are privately rented, 27% are socially rented. The privately rented home is quickly accelerating and there is a prediction that it will overtake the traditional way to a home via Council /Housing Associations soon.
Both Mary and I spoke up about the threat that Houses of Multiple Occupation in the private rented sector holds for communities such as ours. It was astonishing to be told that there are now 500,000 HMOS in the Country, and here in Wolverhampton we are moving closely towards having close to 1% of those here in our City.
We warned about the rise and rise of HMO’s.
The paper told that there was an estimate of there being more than 4,000 HMO’s in Wolverhampton. Out of those numbers it was surprising to be informed that there are only 300 licenced . Officers state that there are at least another 200 HMO’s that need mandatory licences, and that the City of Wolverhampton need to proactively find, enforce and licence to ensure that these HMO’s meet the correct safety standards.
“Mary and I warned of the impact that HMO’s can have on stable communities. Communities that are rich in family, and then with lightening speed find a HMO in their midst. Community reaction is as you would expect is one of concern for safety and the protection of their families.”
We urged officers and the planning regime about allowing these situations develop.
There is safety issues for our communities, and there is safety issues for those that live in this type of housing that is hazardous and does not have mandatory licences to operate.
Mary and I urged that where there is infringement that enforcement is delivered. There are penalties on criminal landlords of up to £30,000 per offence, as an alternative to prosecution. With repeat offenders being added onto a national database and local authorities being able to apply for banning orders.
Your Wednesfield North Councillors made our position very clear on HMO’s, we know from experience here in our Ward, the concerns that the residents have here. We need to remain vigilant always. Be aware of a sudden influx of people using what were once family homes for multiple occupation.
If you have concerns about any such property in Wednesfield North. Please tell us!