Liverpool cracks down on multiple occupation conversions

Following a public consultation, Liverpool City Council is to limit the number of small houses being converted into multiple apartments. Tony McDonough reports

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Liverpool is to crack down on the number of HMOs across the city


Liverpool is launch a crackdown on the practice of small homes being converted into multiple apartments after a public consultation offered overwhelming public support.

What are called houses of multiple occupation (HMOs) now make up a significant percentage of the city’s housing stock. A rising student population and changes to housing benefit rules have fuelled a demand for single person households.

Currently, conversion of family houses into larger HMOs – seven bedrooms and above – must have planning permission, meaning Liverpool City Council has some ability to influence where and how larger HMOs are developed.

Now the authority will introduce the same rules across the inner core of the city for any new HMOs of less than seven bedrooms, from Thursday, June 17m this year. The decision will affect more than 60,000 homes but will have no impact on existing HMOs.

The decision follows a two month long public consultation on the issue which showed 81% of people were in favour of the move. More than 850 people responded, with just 13% against the proposal.

Fears have been expressed that the volume of HMOs had reached “a tipping point”, causing parking, anti-social behaviour and waste collection issues in certain neighbourhoods. There is also a worry that it reduces the number of available family homes.

This is not the first time the council has adopted this change. In 2018, it implemented aa similar policy in Greenbank Ward, in south Liverpool. This broader step across 11 council wards would follow a commitment made in Liverpool’s Draft Local Plan.

The new ruling will apply in Anfield, Central, Greenbank, Kensington and Fairfield, Picton, Princes Park, Riverside, Tuebrook and Stoneycroft, and Wavertree. Part of the following electoral wards will also be included at the boundaries of:

  • Kirkdale Ward bounded by Leeds Street, Vauxhall Road, Ford Street and Scotland Road.
  • Church Ward bounded by Heathfield Road, Queens Drive, Allerton Road and Rutherford Road.

Cllr Barry Kushner, Liverpool City Council’s cabinet member for Housing, said: “Residents have told us how much HMO’s are damaging the fabric and stability of their community. I’m delighted to say we have listened to those concerns and are seeking to take control of where these conversions can happen.

“As a council we need to have the ability to offer families of all different sizes and people with a whole host of needs a variety of good quality, affordable homes. If unchecked HMOs were in danger of reducing Liverpool’s offer which is why we need to reset the dial whilst developing more social housing across the city.”

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